What Are Early Symptoms of Myotonic Dystrophy?

Early symptoms of myotonic dystrophy typically include weakness of voluntary muscles, although the specific muscles affected and the severity of the weakness depends on the type of myotonic dystrophy, states the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Early symptoms of adult-onset type 1 myotonic dystrophy include weakness in the muscles of the fingers, ankles, face and neck. Childhood-onset myotonic dystrophy causes cognitive and behavioral abnormalities before muscle symptoms appear. Congenital myotonic dystrophy causes neonatal respiratory weakness, cognitive impairment and severe developmental delays.

Type 2 myotonic dystrophy first affects muscles near the center of the body, although finger weakness is sometimes also an early symptom, according to the Muscular Dystrophy Association. In general, Type 2 myotonic dystrophy is less severe than Type 1 myotonic dystrophy.

Among the most complicated of all known diseases, myotonic dysrophy is an inherited disorder that affects multiple systems of the body, states the Myotonic Dystrophy Foundation. As the disease progresses, it can cause worsening skeletal muscle problems, breathing difficulty, heart function disorders, cataracts, diabetic symptoms and daytime sleepiness. Many patients experience myotonia, which is an inability to relax muscles on command, adds the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Myotonic Dystrophy is a progressive disease, and symptoms usually slowly worsen over many years, states the Myotonic Dystrophy Foundation. As of 2015, there is no treatment to halt the progression of the disease, but managing symptoms can dramatically improve quality of life.