Bone Health

Bone monitoring and treatment

People with Duchenne muscular dystrophy have low bone density, which makes their bones weaker. Fractures to vertebrae (the bones in the spine) and long-bone fractures are specific bone problems that healthcare providers should be aware of. Healthcare providers should talk to families about how much calcium and vitamin D a person with muscular dystrophy should get. Physical therapists should help increase the time spent standing and weight bearing whenever possible. Healthcare providers might refer people with fractures to specialists, and they might be treated with medications to increase bone density (bisphosphonates).

How often to have monitoring, and what is involved

Regular monitoring is important. Different healthcare providers may have different monitoring plans, but many plans include bone exams every year or every other year. Specific tests may include DEXA (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) scans or lumbar spine X-rays. Tests also may include the measurement of bone health markers, including serum (blood) calcium, vitamin D, and phosphate and urinary calcium phosphate and creatinine. These tests give healthcare providers more information about how likely a person is to have fractures.

To learn more:

  • Read PPMD's Fact Sheet on bone health.
  • Biggar WD et al. Report of a Muscular Dystrophy Campaign funded workshop Birmingham, UK, January 16th 2004. Osteoporosis in Duchenne muscular dystrophy; its prevalence, treatment and prevention. Neuromuscul Disord 2005 15:72-9.
  • Bushby KMD et al. The multidisciplinary management of Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Current Paediatrics 2005 15: 292-300.