Medication for Muscular Dystrophy

Different types of muscular dystrophy cause different symptoms, based on the muscles affected. For example, someone with myotonic muscular dystrophy is unable to relax muscles at will, whereas someone with Becker muscular dystrophy has weakness in the muscles of the hips and thighs, causing walking problems.

Medication cannot stop or reverse any type of muscular dystrophy. However, NYU Langone physicians can prescribe medication to manage muscle weakness in people with certain types of muscular dystrophy, such as myotonic muscular dystrophy, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and Becker muscular dystrophy. 

NYU Langone doctors understand that muscular dystrophy affects each person differently. They tailor treatment based on the type of muscular dystrophy.


Corticosteroids, such as prednisone, are powerful anti-inflammatory medications often prescribed for people with Duchenne muscular dystrophy or Becker muscular dystrophy. These medications can help to delay muscle degeneration and retain strength. Corticosteroids can also prolong the ability to walk. 

These medications are usually taken daily, but some people follow an every other day schedule. Others take the medication for 10 days and then take a break from the medication for the next 10 days. Still others take corticosteroids only on weekends, when they can better manage any side effects. Your doctor works with you to determine the right schedule, based on your needs.

Long-term use of corticosteroids can lead to potentially serious side effects, including osteoporosis, weight gain, or high blood pressure. Your doctor monitors you regularly and adjusts the medication if necessary.

Muscle Relaxants

Doctors may prescribe muscle relaxants for people with myotonic muscular dystrophy to relieve muscle spasms. This class of medications is taken as necessary, based on symptom flare-ups. Side effects include dizziness, drowsiness, and nausea.

Medication alone may not alleviate all muscular dystrophy symptoms. Your doctor may recommend taking medication in combination with other forms of treatment, such as exercise or physical therapy.

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