Muscle atrophy is defined as a condition that causes wasting of muscle tissues. The muscle loss may be partial or complete. The article provides information about some facts and various treatment available.
The term 'muscle atrophy' refers to a medical condition wherein the affected person tends to lose muscle mass. This medical condition adversely affects the quality of life of the affected individual, rendering him helpless to perform even the simplest of tasks due to the reduced muscle strength due to wasting of muscle tissue. This condition is classified into disuse and neurogenic atrophy.
Disuse atrophy occurs due to lack of physical activity, and may affect those who are bedridden or lead an extremely sedentary lifestyle. This disease affects those who do not use their muscles enough. It could even affect astronauts who are away from Earth's gravity.
Neurogenic atrophy might be caused due to a disease or an injury to the nerve that is in connection with the muscles.It might be caused by:
- Cachexia (defined as any general reduction in vitality and strength of the body and mind, as a result of worsening chronic disease like AIDS.)
- Corticosteroid therapy intended for long-term treatment
- Guillain-Barre syndrome (defined as a condition wherein the body's immune system attacks its own nerves)
- Injury to the spinal cord
- Lou Gehrig's disease (Also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, this neurological disease targets the muscles, making them so weak that the person may become disabled, or even die.)
- Severe malnutrition
- Myopathy that is associated with alcohol abuse
- Neuropathy associated with diabetes (nerve damage caused by diabetes)
- Peripheral nerve injury
- Poliomyelitis (also known as polio, it is a viral infectious disease that affects the brain stem and spinal cord.)
- Rheumatoid arthritis
The condition of disuse atrophy can be treated by following a regular exercise schedule and inculcating a healthy diet habit. The main purpose of exercises and dietary reinforcement is to rebuild muscle tissues and overcome the weakness.
As far as neurogenic atrophy is concerned, until the underlying cause is identified and treated, the condition cannot be improve. While following a regular exercise regimen (water exercises), or undergoing physical therapy or ultrasound therapy might help, in some cases, surgery (to correct a contracture) is advised.
In case of disuse atrophy the condition can be reversed and recovery is fast, as the condition is due to lack of physical activity. However, in neurogenic atrophy, the treatment of the underlying medical condition is necessary for successful recovery. Hence, it is advised to consult a doctor as soon as the symptoms start appearing.