atrophy is when muscles waste away. The main reason for muscle wasting is a
lack of physical activity. This can happen when a disease or injury makes it
difficult or impossible for you to move an arm or leg. A symptom of atrophied
muscles is an arm that appears smaller, but not shorter, than the other arm.
schedule an appointment with your doctor if you think you are experiencing
muscle atrophy. Your doctor will determine what treatment you need. In some
cases, muscle wasting can be reversed with a proper diet, exercise, or physical
of muscle atrophy
You may have
muscle atrophy if:
of your arms or legs is noticeably smaller than the other.
are experiencing marked weakness in one limb.
have been physically inactive for a very long time.
doctor to have a complete medical examination if you believe you may have
muscle atrophy or if you are unable to move normally. You may have an
undiagnosed condition that requires treatment. Your doctor will be able to
provide you with diet and exercise options.
Causes of muscle atrophy
muscles can waste away if you are not active. Even after it begins, this type
of atrophy can often be reversed with exercise and improved nutrition.
atrophy can also happen if you are bedridden or unable to move certain body parts
due to a medical condition. Astronauts, for example, can also experience some
muscle atrophy after a few days of weightlessness.
for muscle atrophy include:
of physical activity for an extended period of time
myopathy, a pain and weakness in muscles due to excessive drinking over long
periods of time
such as a torn rotator cuff or broken bones
cord or peripheral nerve injuries
cause muscles to waste away or can make movement difficult, leading to muscle
atrophy. These include:
- amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS),
also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, affects nerve cells that control voluntary
- dermatomyositis, causes muscle
weakness and skin rash
- Guillain-Barré syndrome, an
autoimmune disease that leads to nerve inflammation and muscle weakness
- multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune
disease in which the body destroys the protective coverings of nerves
- muscular dystrophy, an inherited
disease that causes muscle weakness
- neuropathy, damage to a nerve or
nerve group, resulting in loss of sensation or function
- osteoarthritis, causes reduced motion
in the joints
- polio, a viral disease affecting
muscle tissue that can lead to paralysis
- polymyositis, an inflammatory disease
- rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic
inflammatory disease that affects the joints
- spinal muscular atrophy, a hereditary
disease causing arm and leg muscles to waste away
How muscle atrophy is diagnosed
Your doctor will
ask about your complete medical history. Tell them about old or recent injuries
and previously diagnosed medical conditions. List prescriptions, over-the
counter medications, and supplements you’re taking. And give a detailed
description of your symptoms.
may also order tests to help with the diagnosis and to rule out certain
diseases. These tests may include:
resonance imaging (MRI)
tomography (CT) scan
or nerve biopsy
may refer you to a specialist depending on the results of these tests.
How muscle atrophy is treated
will depend on the diagnosis and the severity of your muscle loss. Any underlying
medical conditions must be addressed. Common treatments for muscle atrophy
exercises might include water exercises to help make movement easier. Physical
therapists can also teach you the correct ways to exercise. A physical
therapist can move your arms and legs for you if you have trouble moving.
therapy is a noninvasive procedure that uses sound waves to aid in healing.
Also, surgery may be necessary if your tendons, ligaments, skin, or muscles are
too tight and prevent you from moving. This condition is called contracture
be able to correct contracture deformity if your muscle atrophy is due to
malnutrition. And a torn tendon may cause muscle atrophy, but surgery may also be
able to correct it.
will advise you about proper nutrition and suggest proper dietary supplements