Overview – Muscle Atrophy
Health April 2, 2018

Overview – Muscle Atrophy

The wasting of muscles is known as muscle atrophy. The lack of physical activity contributes to causing muscle waste. This often happens when someone has been through an injury making it difficult or impossible for them to move their limbs. Muscle atrophy can cause one of the arms to appear smaller, and not shorter, than the other.

There are two types of muscle atrophy—disuse atrophy and neurogenic atrophy. Both forms look similar but have significant differences among them. When there is a loss of muscle due to lack of physical activity, the condition is known as disuse atrophy. Moreover, when the muscle loss is due to certain issues in the nerves that are connected to the muscle, the condition is known as neurogenic atrophy.

Causes of muscle atrophy
Disuse muscle atrophy is one of the most common types of muscle atrophy. People who are bedridden often face the condition of muscle atrophy. In most cases, elder persons who are bedridden are often weak and frail, and hence are unable to get out of bed to perform any type of physical activity.

Apart from the no physical activity, a sedentary lifestyle is another cause of muscle atrophy. A sedentary lifestyle is a type of lifestyle that involves very little or no physical activities. Most employees are forced to adapt to the sedentary lifestyle and this keeps them away from any physical activity.

As opposed to disuse muscle atrophy, neurogenic muscle atrophy is less common but more difficult to treat. This is because the cause is the problem between the nerves connecting to the muscles.

Diseases that lead to or cause muscle atrophy include Lou Gehrig’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and Guillain–Barre syndrome. In herniated discs, some nerves can get interrupted which might lead to neurogenic muscle atrophy. Carpal tunnel syndrome can also cause a compression of nerves leading of muscle atrophy.

Other causes of muscle atrophy include malnutrition, burns, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, long-term corticosteroid therapy, muscular dystrophy, and other diseases related to the muscles.

Symptoms of muscle atrophy
Usually conditions that lead to muscle atrophy often show their own symptoms. However, there are other symptoms of muscle atrophy that include weak muscles, stroke and heart attack, muscle damage, and pain. A brief description of these symptoms has been given below:

Weak muscles – When there is less strength due to muscle loss, the muscles can start feeling weak. People who are suffering from muscle atrophy can start feeling a weakness in their muscles especially while lifting objects.

Stroke and heart attack – Due to the lack of physical activities, the heart can face difficulties in pumping blood leading to a sudden increase in the heart rate at the slightest physical activity. This can often lead to a heart attack or a stroke and is a symptom of muscle atrophy.

Muscle damage – Muscle damage can be seen in the form of a stooped posture that is gained from muscle atrophy.

Pain – There are several types of pain that can be categorized as symptoms of muscle atrophy. Numbness in the arms or legs, loss of muscle coordination, facial weakness, difficulty while talking or swallowing, progressive muscle weakness, and numbness are some pain-related symptoms of muscle atrophy.

If one experiences any signs or symptoms of muscle atrophy, it is important to consult a doctor as soon as possible and get a proper diagnosis so the treatment can begin as early as possible.