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Alternative namesMuscle wasting; Wasting; Atrophy of the muscles
DefinitionMuscle atrophy refers to the wasting or loss of muscle tissue resulting from disease or lack of use.
The majority of muscle atrophy in the general population results from disuse. People with sedentary jobs and senior citizens with decreased activity can lose muscle tone and develop significant atrophy. This type of atrophy is reversible with vigorous exercise. Bed-ridden people can undergo significant muscle wasting. Astronauts, free of the gravitational pull of Earth, can develop decreased muscle tone and loss of calcium from their bones following just a few days of weightlessness.
Examples of diseases affecting the nerves that control muscles would be poliomyelitis , amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease), and Guillain-Barre syndrome . Examples of diseases affecting primarily the muscles would include muscular dystrophy , myotonia congenita, and myotonic dystrophy as well as other congenital, inflammatory, or metabolic myopathies (muscle diseases).
Home CareApplication of moist heat is recommended along with whirlpool baths and resistive exercises.
Unless prohibited by the doctor, active exercises are recommended where a full range of motion is achieved. Exercises using braces or splints are recommended for those who cannot actively move one or more joints.
Call your health care provider if
The medical history will be obtained and a physical examination performed.
Medical history questions documenting muscle atrophy in detail may include:
Diagnostic tests that may be performed include:
You may want to add a diagnosis related to muscle atrophy to your personal medical record.
Update Date: 10/23/2003Elaine T. Kiriakopoulos, M.D., M.Sc., Department of Neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard University, Boston, MA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT