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Facioscapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy

(Landouzy-Dejerine Muscular Dystrophy)


Michael Rubin

, MDCM, New York Presbyterian Hospital-Cornell Medical Center

Reviewed/Revised Jan 2022 | Modified Sep 2022

Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy is the most prevalent type of muscular dystrophy. Most cases manifest by age 20. It is characterized by weakness of the facial muscles and shoulder girdle. The course is variable. Diagnosis is by DNA analysis. Treatment is symptomatic, usually with physical therapy.

Muscular dystrophies are inherited, progressive muscle disorders resulting from defects in one or more genes needed for normal muscle structure and function; dystrophic changes (eg, muscle fiber necrosis and regeneration) are seen on biopsy specimens.

Symptoms and Signs

Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy is characterized by weakness of the facial muscles and shoulder girdle. Symptoms may develop in early childhood and are usually noticeable during adolescence; 95% of cases manifest by age 20. Initial symptoms are slowly progressive and may include difficulty whistling, closing the eyes, and raising the arms (due to weakness of the scapular stabilizer muscles). Patients eventually notice a change in facial expression.

The course is variable. Many patients do not become disabled and have a normal life expectancy. Other patients depend on a wheelchair in adulthood. An infantile variety, characterized by facial, shoulder, and hip-girdle weakness, is rapidly progressive, and disability is always severe. Nonmuscular symptoms frequently associated with this disorder include sensorineural hearing loss Pathophysiology Worldwide, about half a billion people (almost 8% of the world's population) have hearing loss ( 1). More than 10% of people in the US have some degree of hearing loss that compromises their... read more Pathophysiology and retinal vascular abnormalities.


  • DNA mutation analysis

Diagnosis of facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy is indicated by characteristic clinical findings, age at onset, and family history and is confirmed by DNA testing.


  • Physical therapy

Monitoring for retinal vascular abnormalities is essential to prevent blindness.

Treatment reference

  • 1. Tawil R, Kissel JT, Heatwole C, et al: Evidence-based guideline summary: Evaluation, diagnosis, and management of facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy: Report of the Guideline Development, Dissemination, and Implementation Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology and the Practice Issues Review Panel of the American Association of Neuromuscular & Electrodiagnostic Medicine. Neurology 85:357–364, 2015. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000001783

More Information

The following are some English-language resources that may be useful. Please note that THE MANUAL is not responsible for the content of these resources.

NOTE: This is the Professional Version. CONSUMERS: View Consumer Version
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