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Muscle atrophy: causes, symptoms and treatment

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

As we know, Muscles fulfill an essential function in the human body. These are soft tissues that allow bone and joint movement. Several types of muscles have different roles in our body: the most abundant are those attached to the bones, which will enable us to carry out the movements of our entire body. Our blood vessels and other organs also have muscles that involuntarily contract and relax to perform various vital functions for our bodies. Some people who meet certain conditions may suffer deterioration in power and may notice a decrease in its consistency, affecting their average performance. In this FastlyHealarticle, we will explain everything about muscle atrophy: causes, symptoms, and treatment in detail so that you know how to identify this situation.

What is muscle atrophy?

The muscles attached to the skeleton, conveniently called skeletal muscles, are responsible for allowing our proper movement to move and perform actions. This type of muscle depends on high consumption of energy and sufficient activity to maintain the capacity to support our weight and carry out day-to-day tasks. When a person decreases their physical activity to significant levels, they are at risk of suffering what is known as muscle atrophy.

Muscle atrophy refers to the wear, deterioration, or loss of skeletal muscle. The consequence of this deterioration is the loss of muscle strength since this is related to its mass; that is, muscle atrophy causes a significant impact on the functional activities of the day today. As the muscles wear out, the affected person will have more difficulty performing activities such as walking or standing for even a short period and may even suffer injuries to the lower extremities in this case.

Causes of muscle atrophy

Various causes can cause muscle atrophy, some being more frequent than others, such as:

  • Disuse: it is one of the leading causes of muscle atrophy. When there is a lack of activity or physical effort, the muscles are not used or are not exercised as often as they should. This type of atrophy is more affected among those who have jobs in which they spend most of the time sitting, people who have health problems in which movement or physical activity is restricted, for example, patients who spend long periods of hospitalization bedridden or who are unable to move their muscles voluntarily due to some disease or injury.
  • Neurogenic type is a type of severe atrophy due to damage to the nerves connected directly to the muscles. This can be due to different types of diseases and conditions. Some of them are carpal tunnel syndrome, polio, or some injuries to the spinal cord, among others.
  • Other causes: other possible causes such as burns, diseases related to the muscles -amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-malnutrition, and cardiovascular or cerebrovascular accidents, among others.

Symptoms of muscle atrophy

Unlike other diseases or health conditions, muscle atrophy is usually differentiated more by the signs it causes than by its symptoms. Some of the most common and common are:

  • Mainly the loss of muscle mass in the extremities, the person reports having one of the minor extremities about the other that still maintains average muscle mass.
  • Lack of muscle tone and physical activity causes weakness in the limbs and a feeling of lack of strength.
  • Suddenly, daily exercises that have always been done are difficult to carry out. Incompetence is shown in performing basic movements.

Diagnosis of muscle atrophy

To diagnose muscular atrophy, the patient’s clinical history may be sufficient where situations that could have produced the atrophy appear. In addition, it may also be necessary to make a clinical evaluation where the characteristics of these conditions are evident, such as weakness and significant loss of muscle mass. When comparing one limb to another, the difference in the size of both limbs may indicate muscle atrophy.

For the diagnosis, the use of complementary tests can also be beneficial:

  • Blood tests.
  • Use of radiographs such as resonance and computed tomography.
  • Nerve conduction studies to rule out neurogenic atrophy, among other supplements.

All these tests will allow a more general view of the patient, and depending on the cause, the doctor may or may not consider referring to a specialist doctor.

Treatment of muscle atrophy

Treatment for muscle atrophy is the same for almost all cases. As it is a loss of muscle mass, the best treatment is to regain it.

When it comes to muscle atrophy due to disuse, it is the case in which it is more easily reversible since physical activity must be increased, performing exercises to increase muscle mass and also together with this, it is necessary to consider improving nutrition by modifying the way you eat, increasing your protein intake.

Another exercise can be inside a swimming pool or pool when the affected person has great difficulty moving. Still, these exercises must be guided by a specialist, who will indicate the best routine depending on the case.

The treatment of muscular atrophy due to neuropathy also includes increasing physical activity with exercises to improve strength and muscle control, which can be carried out with the help of wheelchairs and devices. Orthopedics can improve movement or the ability to use an arm or leg that has some neurological damage.

Treatment can also include physical therapy in the most severe cases and surgery when you have muscle contracture.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Muscle atrophy: causes, symptoms and treatment , we recommend that you enter our category of Bones, joints and muscles .

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