Muscle atrophy is the wasting or loss of muscle tissue.

Did You Know: Muscle atrophy is the wasting or loss of muscle tissue.

Considerations
There are two types of muscle atrophy.
Disuse atrophy occurs from a lack of physical activity. In most people, muscle atrophy is caused by not using the muscles enough. People with seated jobs, medical conditions that limit their movement, or decreased activity levels can lose muscle tone and develop atrophy. This type of atrophy can be reversed with exercise and better nutrition. Bedridden people can have significant muscle wasting. Astronauts who are away from the Earth’s gravity can develop decreased muscle tone after just a few days of weightlessness.

The most severe type of muscle atrophy is neurogenic atrophy. It occurs when there is an injury to, or disease of, a nerve that connects to the muscle. This type of muscle atrophy tends to occur more suddenly than disuse atrophy.

Examples of diseases affecting the nerves that control muscles:

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease)
Guillain-Barre syndrome
Neuropathy
Polio (poliomyelitis)
Although people can adapt to muscle atrophy, even minor muscle atrophy usually causes some loss of movement or strength.

Causes
Some muscle atrophy occurs normally with aging. Other causes may include:

Alcohol-associated myopathy
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease)
Burns
Dermatomyositis and polymyositis
Guillain-Barre syndrome
Injury
Long-term corticosteroid therapy
Malnutrition
Motor neuropathy (such as diabetic neuropathy)
Muscular dystrophy
Not moving (immobilization)
Osteoarthritis
Polio
Rheumatoid arthritis
Spinal cord injury
Stroke

Home Care
An exercise program (under the direction of a therapist or doctor) is recommended to help treat muscle atrophy. This may include exercises in water to reduce the muscle workload, and other types of rehabilitation.

People who cannot actively move one or more joints can do exercises using braces or splints.

When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your doctor for an appointment if you have unexplained or long-term muscle loss. You can often see this when you compare one hand, arm, or leg to the other.

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Posted on July 22, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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