What is Duchenne muscular dystrophy?

Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a progressive disease which is usually diagnosed in boys between the ages of 3 and 6.

The information on this page can help you to understand the symptoms, causes and stages of DMD.

Louis, aged 8, smiling outdoors Louis, aged 8, smiling outdoors
young boy sitting on floor

Signs and symptoms of Duchenne

In early stages, DMD affects the limb muscles, with the legs affected before the arms. Children with DMD are often late walkers. Muscle weakness is most noticeable when children run or get up from the floor.

Early symptoms can also include:

  • Delay in the ability to sit and stand independently
  • Large calf muscles (known as pseudohypertrophy)
  • Trouble running and jumping
  • Unusual gait when walking
  • Using the Gower’s Manouevre to get off the floor (using their hands and arms to “walk” up their own body from a squatting position).

How is Duchenne diagnosed?

If you are concerned that your child has the signs and symptoms of DMD, visit your doctor and ask for the following tests to be carried out.

Stages of Duchenne

There are different stages to DMD, and care needs will change over time. As more effective therapies and treatments are developed, later stages could be delayed or prevented. Each child is different, some will hit stages earlier or later than others. The information below will provide an overview of the typical stages.

FAQs about Duchenne

For an explanation of scientific terminology, visit our DMD research glossary

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How can Duchenne be treated

Current treatments and supporting therapies for DMD can help to ease the symptoms of the disease. 

Duchenne UK is funding research into new treatments that could have greater impact and more acceptable side effects.

Find out more

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If your loved one has DMD, we are here to support you from the point of diagnosis into adulthood.

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We're going further and faster than anyone before to find more effective treatments and a cure for DMD.

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Matt embracing his son Connor, who has DMD Matt embracing his son Connor, who has DMD

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