Becker Muscular Dystrophy vs. Duchenne

What's the Difference?

Becker Muscular Dystrophy (BMD) and Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) are both genetic disorders that affect the muscles, but they differ in terms of severity and age of onset. BMD is generally milder than DMD, with symptoms appearing later in life, usually in the late teens or early adulthood. In contrast, DMD is more severe and typically manifests in early childhood, around the age of 3-5 years. Both conditions are caused by mutations in the dystrophin gene, which leads to the progressive degeneration and weakening of muscles. However, individuals with BMD tend to have a slower progression of muscle weakness and may retain some mobility for a longer period compared to those with DMD. Overall, while both BMD and DMD share similarities in terms of genetic cause and muscle involvement, their differences lie in the severity and age of onset of symptoms.


AttributeBecker Muscular DystrophyDuchenne
Onset of symptomsUsually in late childhood or adolescenceUsually in early childhood (around age 3-5)
Progression of muscle weaknessSlower progression compared to DuchenneRapid progression
Severity of symptomsVaries, can range from mild to severeTypically severe
Gene mutationDeletion, duplication, or point mutation in the dystrophin geneDeletion in the dystrophin gene
Dystrophin protein productionReduced but not completely absentCompletely absent
Wheelchair dependencyMay or may not require a wheelchairTypically wheelchair-dependent by early teens
Life expectancyVaries, can live into adulthoodReduced life expectancy, typically late teens to early 30s

Further Detail


Becker Muscular Dystrophy (BMD) and Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) are both genetic disorders that affect the muscles, but they have distinct differences in terms of their onset, progression, and severity. While both conditions are caused by mutations in the dystrophin gene, which is responsible for producing a protein essential for muscle function, the specific mutations and resulting symptoms vary between BMD and DMD. In this article, we will explore the attributes of BMD and DMD, highlighting their similarities and differences.

Onset and Progression

One of the key differences between BMD and DMD lies in their onset and progression. DMD is typically diagnosed in early childhood, usually between the ages of 3 and 5. On the other hand, BMD often presents later in life, with symptoms appearing in adolescence or even adulthood. This delayed onset is due to the fact that the dystrophin protein produced in BMD, although reduced in quantity, retains some functionality, allowing for a slower progression of muscle weakness compared to DMD.

Symptoms and Severity

While both BMD and DMD share common symptoms such as muscle weakness and fatigue, the severity of these symptoms differs significantly. In DMD, muscle weakness is typically more pronounced and progresses rapidly, leading to the loss of ambulation by the teenage years. On the other hand, individuals with BMD often experience milder muscle weakness, which may progress more slowly and allow for a longer period of independent mobility. Additionally, individuals with BMD may have a wider range of muscle involvement, with some muscles being more affected than others, leading to a more variable presentation of symptoms.

Genetic Mutations

The genetic mutations responsible for BMD and DMD are located in the same dystrophin gene, but they differ in their nature and impact. In DMD, the mutations typically result in a complete absence or severe reduction of the dystrophin protein, leading to the more severe symptoms observed. In contrast, BMD mutations often allow for the production of a partially functional dystrophin protein, which can partially compensate for the muscle weakness. The specific location and type of mutation within the dystrophin gene can also influence the severity and progression of the disease in both BMD and DMD.

Cardiac Involvement

Another important aspect to consider when comparing BMD and DMD is the involvement of the heart. DMD is known to have a high prevalence of cardiac complications, with the heart muscle becoming progressively weaker over time. This cardiac involvement can lead to serious complications and significantly impact the lifespan of individuals with DMD. In contrast, BMD generally has a milder cardiac involvement, although some individuals may still develop cardiac abnormalities later in life. Regular cardiac monitoring is crucial for both conditions to detect and manage any potential cardiac issues.

Treatment and Management

Currently, there is no cure for either BMD or DMD, but various treatment and management strategies can help improve the quality of life for affected individuals. Physical therapy and exercise are essential components of managing both conditions, as they can help maintain muscle strength and flexibility. Additionally, the use of assistive devices such as braces, wheelchairs, and mobility aids can support mobility and independence. In recent years, advancements in genetic therapies, such as exon skipping and gene editing, have shown promise in treating DMD by targeting specific mutations. However, these treatments are still in the experimental stage and not widely available.


Becker Muscular Dystrophy and Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy are both genetic disorders that affect the muscles, but they differ in terms of onset, progression, severity, genetic mutations, and cardiac involvement. While DMD is typically diagnosed in early childhood and progresses rapidly, BMD often presents later in life and progresses more slowly. The severity of symptoms is generally milder in BMD compared to DMD, and the specific mutations within the dystrophin gene play a crucial role in determining the disease's characteristics. Both conditions require comprehensive management strategies to address muscle weakness and potential cardiac complications. Continued research and advancements in treatment options offer hope for improved outcomes for individuals living with BMD and DMD.

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