Depending on what your definition of a “muscle” is the total number contained within the human body ranges somewhere between 650 and 840.
While most of these bundles of fibrous tissue work together in unison, allowing you to perform everyday actions such as walking your child to the school bus or doing household chores, sometimes a gene-related mutation occurs, making even simple tasks harder, if not impossible, to complete.
Such is the case with health conditions such as muscular dystrophy (MD), a diagnosis that the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development says affects approximately one out of every 5,600 to 8,000 people worldwide.
What is MD, what has new research revealed, and, perhaps most importantly, how is it relevant to your chiropractic practice?
Muscular dystrophy defined
According to the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA), “muscular dystrophy” isn’t a term used to describe just one muscle-related condition, but rather, it encompasses “a number of diseases that cause progressive loss of muscle mass resulting in weakness and, sometimes, loss of mobility.”
Although the MDA stresses that muscular dystrophy is fairly rare, some of the most commonly known types of this condition include Duchenne, Limb-Girdle, Oculopharyngeal, Distal, and Congenital MD.
Regardless of which type exists, this loss of muscle is gene-related, says the MDA, and “caused by a mutation, or flaw.” Furthermore, this mutation or flaw results in defective, insufficient, or missing proteins needed by the body to ensure normal muscle function.
One protein in particular has a set of scientists from the Medical College of Georgia (MCG) interested in what it does and how it may affect muscle-related diseases such as MD, possibly even slowing the progression of muscle-related disease.
MCG research on rapsyn
In this piece of research funded by the National Institutes of Health, Department of Veterans Affairs, and the National Natural Science Foundation of China, Lin Mei, chairman of the Department of Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine at MCG, led a group of scientists from various departments at MCG.
It was through their studies that they learned that the body contains a protein which appears to play an important role in how the brain talks to muscles within the body. It is called rapsyn.
In order for our brain to properly communicate with our muscles, certain fully-functioning receptors must be in a specific place, they explain. This is where rapsyn comes in as it is a protein that appears to help keep these receptors where they need to be, an action which not only helps protect their function, but also works to benefit the retention of a more healthy composition.
How this study relates to chiropractic care
While this study is a breakthrough which may aid in future studies related to treatment of conditions such as MD, it is also an important study to the chiropractic world. This is due to the fact that the protein is actually released by neurons which extend from the spinal column directly to the muscle cells, causing the activation of enzymes with help keep the receptor formations in place.
Therefore, if the spine is misaligned in any way, it may not be able to make these necessary connections, making regular adjustments an important part of healthy brain-muscle cell communication.
Additionally, patient education of symptoms commonly associated with MD may help with earlier diagnosis and treatment should this condition exist. The Mayo Clinic provides a list of them common to this set of conditions, and these include falling down or tripping a lot, having trouble getting up after sitting or lying, muscle pain and stiffness, and even learning disabilities.
Shoulder blades that “stick out like wings” and trouble “lifting the front portion of the foot” are also indicators of different types of muscular dystrophy conditions.