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Disease Profile

Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy

Prevalence estimates on Rare Medical Network websites are calculated based on data available from numerous sources, including US and European government statistics, the NIH, Orphanet, and published epidemiologic studies. Rare disease population data is recognized to be highly variable, and based on a wide variety of source data and methodologies, so the prevalence data on this site should be assumed to be estimated and cannot be considered to be absolutely correct.

1-9 / 100 000

US Estimated

Europe Estimated

Age of onset






Autosomal dominant A pathogenic variant in only one gene copy in each cell is sufficient to cause an autosomal dominant disease.


Autosomal recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of each gene of the chromosome are needed to cause an autosomal recessive disease and observe the mutant phenotype.


dominant X-linked dominant inheritance, sometimes referred to as X-linked dominance, is a mode of genetic inheritance by which a dominant gene is carried on the X chromosome.


recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of a gene on the X chromosome cause an X-linked recessive disorder.


Mitochondrial or multigenic Mitochondrial genetic disorders can be caused by changes (mutations) in either the mitochondrial DNA or nuclear DNA that lead to dysfunction of the mitochondria and inadequate production of energy.

Multigenic or multifactor Inheritance involving many factors, of which at least one is genetic but none is of overwhelming importance, as in the causation of a disease by multiple genetic and environmental factors.


Not applicable


Other names (AKA)

FSHD; Muscular dystrophy, facioscapulohumeral; Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy 1A;


Congenital and Genetic Diseases; Nervous System Diseases


Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy is a disorder characterized by muscle weakness and wasting (atrophy). This condition gets its name from the areas of the body that are affected most often: muscles in the face (facio-), around the shoulder blades (scapulo-), and in the upper arms (humeral). The signs and symptoms of facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy usually appear in adolescence. However, the onset and severity of the condition varies widely. Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy results from a deletion of genetic material from a region of DNA known as D4Z4. This region is located near one end of chromosome 4. It is inherited in an autosomal dominant pattern.[1]


This table lists symptoms that people with this disease may have. For most diseases, symptoms will vary from person to person. People with the same disease may not have all the symptoms listed. This information comes from a database called the Human Phenotype Ontology (HPO) . The HPO collects information on symptoms that have been described in medical resources. The HPO is updated regularly. Use the HPO ID to access more in-depth information about a symptom.

Medical Terms Other Names
Learn More:
80%-99% of people have these symptoms
Elevated serum creatine kinase
Elevated blood creatine phosphokinase
Elevated circulating creatine phosphokinase
Elevated creatine kinase
Elevated serum CPK
Elevated serum creatine phosphokinase
High serum creatine kinase
Increased CPK
Increased creatine kinase
Increased creatine phosphokinase
Increased serum CK
Increased serum creatine kinase
Increased serum creatine phosphokinase

[ more ]

EMG abnormality
Prominent swayback
Mask-like facies
Expressionless face
Lack of facial expression
Mask-like facial appearance

[ more ]

Skeletal muscle atrophy
Muscle degeneration
Muscle wasting

[ more ]

30%-79% of people have these symptoms
Abnormal eyelash morphology
Abnormal eyelashes
Abnormality of the eyelashes
Eyelash abnormality

[ more ]

Abnormal retinal vascular morphology
Abnormality of retina blood vessels
Palpebral edema
Fullness of eyelids
Puffy eyelids
Puffy lids
Swelling of eyelids

[ more ]

Sensorineural hearing impairment
5%-29% of people have these symptoms
Abnormality of cardiovascular system morphology
Poor swallowing
Swallowing difficulties
Swallowing difficulty

[ more ]

Percent of people who have these symptoms is not available through HPO
Abdominal wall muscle weakness
Autosomal dominant inheritance
Beevor's sign
Calf muscle hypertrophy
Increased size of calf muscles
Childhood onset
Symptoms begin in childhood
External ophthalmoplegia
Paralysis or weakness of muscles within or surrounding outer part of eye
Exudative retinal detachment
Facial palsy
Bell's palsy
Intellectual disability
Mental deficiency
Mental retardation
Mental retardation, nonspecific

[ more ]

Restrictive ventilatory defect
Stiff lung or chest wall causing decreased lung volume
Retinal telangiectasia
Scapular winging
Winged shoulder blade
Scapulohumeral muscular dystrophy
Shoulder girdle muscle atrophy
Shoulder girdle muscle wasting
Shoulder-girdle muscle atrophy

[ more ]

Shoulder girdle muscle weakness
Weak shoulder muscles
Slow progression
Signs and symptoms worsen slowly with time
Tongue atrophy
Wasting of the tongue


Support and advocacy groups can help you connect with other patients and families, and they can provide valuable services. Many develop patient-centered information and are the driving force behind research for better treatments and possible cures. They can direct you to research, resources, and services. Many organizations also have experts who serve as medical advisors or provide lists of doctors/clinics. Visit the group’s website or contact them to learn about the services they offer. Inclusion on this list is not an endorsement by GARD.

Organizations Supporting this Disease

    Organizations Providing General Support

      Learn more

      These resources provide more information about this condition or associated symptoms. The in-depth resources contain medical and scientific language that may be hard to understand. You may want to review these resources with a medical professional.

      Where to Start

      • Genetics Home Reference (GHR) contains information on Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy. This website is maintained by the National Library of Medicine.

        In-Depth Information

        • GeneReviews provides current, expert-authored, peer-reviewed, full-text articles describing the application of genetic testing to the diagnosis, management, and genetic counseling of patients with specific inherited conditions.
        • The Monarch Initiative brings together data about this condition from humans and other species to help physicians and biomedical researchers. Monarch’s tools are designed to make it easier to compare the signs and symptoms (phenotypes) of different diseases and discover common features. This initiative is a collaboration between several academic institutions across the world and is funded by the National Institutes of Health. Visit the website to explore the biology of this condition.
        • Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM) is a catalog of human genes and genetic disorders. Each entry has a summary of related medical articles. It is meant for health care professionals and researchers. OMIM is maintained by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. 
        • Orphanet is a European reference portal for information on rare diseases and orphan drugs. Access to this database is free of charge.
        • PubMed is a searchable database of medical literature and lists journal articles that discuss Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy. Click on the link to view a sample search on this topic.


          1. Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy. Genetics Home Reference (GHR). 2009; https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/facioscapulohumeral-muscular-dystrophy. Accessed 3/15/2013.