Bone health and FSHD

Bone scan
Photo credit: By Myohan at English Wikipedia, CC BY 3.0,


Muscle plays an important role in bone health, and diseases such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy have been linked to low bone mineral density (BMD), abnormal bone turnover, and increased risk of fractures. It was not known whether FSH muscular dystrophy also affects bone health, and a new study published in Muscle & Nerve begins to address this question.

This is a topic that many FSHD patients worry about, because weaker muscles lead to more falls, and fractured bones take long recovery times. Reduced mobility, in turn, can further weaken muscles.The study, led by Kathryn Wagner, MD PhD, of the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, examined 94 FSHD patients, half in Australia and half in the U.S. The volunteers had genetically confirmed FSHD Type 1 and were examined for correlations among disease severity score, BMD, blood biomarkers (molecules associated with bone turnover and health), strength tests, and function.

Overall, the study reported that a diagnosis of FSHD was not predictive of decreased BMD or increased bone fractures. However, the researchers found that declines in whole-body and regional BMD were moderately correlated with reduced strength and function. These patients had a higher prevalence of traumatic fractures, as well as abnormally low levels of vitamin D3.

“Given the considerable variability of bone health in the FSHD population, strength and function can serve as predictors of BMD,” the study concluded. The authors suggested that periodic bone-density scans be done in FSHD patients whose strength and functional tests indicate a higher risk of lower BMD. This will assist doctors in developing effective treatment plans tailored to individuals to help prevent fractures and promote bone health.

The study was funded by a grant from FSHD Global Research Foundation and the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Reference: Chagarlamudi H, Corbett A, Stoll M, Bibat G, Grosmann C, Matichak Stock C, Stinson N, Shapiro J, Wagner KR. Bone health in facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy: A cross-sectional study. Muscle Nerve. 2017 Feb 18. doi: 10.1002/mus.25619. PubMed.


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