Though rare, there are cases where atrophy of the muscles comes abruptly without any cause. If this happens, the best thing to do is visit your doctor as soon as possible.
A course of treatment can be established in order to build back your muscles. Muscle atrophy is mainly caused by two factors:
- An inactive lifestyle
- Serious body problems
If not dealt with asap, muscle atrophy will worsen and in very severe cases might even lead to death. It is therefore vital that one seeks medical help promptly for proper treatment. Muscle atrophy tends to render its victims susceptible to other body conditions to the weak state it leaves the body in. Most of the patients end up bedridden. Prevention is always better than cure either way. Maintain a quality lifestyle and avoid such a condition.
Muscle Atrophy Treatment Procedures
Muscle atrophy Treatment may vary significantly and is dependent on the type of muscle atrophy one is suffering from
The quality of life of patients with muscle atrophy decreases as they are unable to perform many normal tasks that are mandatory for daily living. Their risks for accidental injury is even higher when they perform certain tasks.
Other factors affecting the choice of treatment may include length of time on has suffered, the presence of other accompanying symptoms. Muscle atrophy may be reversible. Various treatment plans available are:
- Physical therapy programs
- Electrical Stimulation
Muscle Atrophy Treatment with Physical Therapy
Disuse atrophy is normally corrected with physical exercise programs. Exercise is aimed at strengthening the affected muscles and restoring as much normal function as possible .The key is to use the affected muscles as frequently as possible to avoid wasting.
The physical therapy program employed may depend on the underlying cause of atrophy, extent of atrophy and location of the atrophied muscle. It involves increasing the range of motion for the affected joint and improving the stability of the joint. Routine progressive exercises are done with the assistance of a physical therapist. As the patient improves, more challenging resistive exercises are added.
Aquatic rehabilitation also known as water therapy has also been used to facilitate weight bearing as it decreases the effects of gravity.
Musculoskeletal manipulations are done in case of neurogenic atrophy to reduce nerve compression .This procedure normally done by a chiropractor, involves stretching the spinal column to relieve pressure on compressed nerves.
With proper physical exercise as muscle atrophy treatment, muscle atrophy from disuse may recover within 12 weeks. Severely bed ridden patients may fail to completely reverse the effects of the atrophy.
Muscle atrophy treatment – Is Surgery helpful?
When atrophy occurs as a result of contractures caused by severe burns, surgery is performed to correct the contractures. This may be followed by extensive rehabilitation involving physical therapy. Conditions such as herniated discs also require surgical intervention.
Muscle Atrophy Treatment with Medication
In order to reduce inflammation and compression of affected nerves, doctors may give a course of anti inflammatory medication to patients with neurogenic atrophy particularly for patients with autoimmune disorders. Anabolic steroids are commonly administered to patients for treatment of severe muscle atrophy.
Muscle wasting that occurs due to inadequacies in protein diet or absence of certain muscle building amino acid s may be treated by amino acid therapy. Amino acid therapy may facilitate the regeneration of damaged tissue.
Research is ongoing about use of a class of drugs referred to as Selective Adrenergic Receptor modulators (SARM) to enhance muscle and tissue growth in patients with muscle atrophy.
Muscle Atrophy Treatment with Electrical Stimulation
Electro muscular stimulation (EMS) of low voltage has been used to stimulate denervated muscles where nerve damage is peripheral
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) therapy is another non invasive technique used for muscle atrophy treatment for patients who have pain along with the atrophy. It is placed on ones skin over the affected muscle and it elicits a sensory effect of decreased pain or a muscular effect through changes of intensity, frequency and pulse of the current.
Treatment options may be limited for incurable and progressive diseases but pain management and mechanical aids to make activities of daily living easier are part of the current advancements in medicine.
Muscle Atrophy Treatment with Exercises
For many years exercise therapy has been effectively used as a treatment for patients with muscle atrophy .Recovering muscle after atrophy is possible and requires the guidance of a physical therapist. It is important to consider the underlying reason for the atrophy. There are no standard exercises that have been developed for muscle atrophy treatment and prescribed exercises are normally customized to the patient.
Before starting an exercise regime, it is important to carry out a thorough assessment of the patient’s capabilities, perform certain investigations in order to determine the kind of therapy required. These may include:
- Measures of motor function
- Head to toe physical exam
- Exercise capacity tests which may involve riding a stationary bicycle or walking in the fastest way possible within a specified period of time.
The aim of physical activity in muscle atrophy treatment is both preventive and curative. Disuse atrophy which occurs in persons with sedentary lifestyles may affect those sitting in offices for long periods of time. With this in mind, Many exercises have been developed that can be performed in a sitting position. Systems have been developed such as the use of fitness balls to replace office chairs in the office setting. It is believed that Fitness balls automatically tone the muscles in the back, hips, shoulders and abdomen. A study conducted in the USA revealed that office workers who used fitness balls instead of office chairs had improved muscle activity in the leg muscles.
The following are examples of simple exercise to help in preventing muscle for people who have to sit for long hours :
- Knee extensions that target the thigh muscles and the calf muscles. They involve repeatedly extending legs slowly in a sitting position.
- Contractions of the quadriceps: This is another exercise targeting the front thigh muscles. This is performed by sitting with legs extended and the knees straightened while heels touching the floor. The quadriceps are then tightened and held for about ten seconds.
- Shin strengtheners are also performed while sitting. These are done by flexing ones toes while pointed upwards. This movement is repeated about 10 times. Some weight may be placed on top of the feet as it is done.
- Another exercise, the inner thigh squeeze, which is performed by placing a small ball between one’s knees and pressing them together for a few seconds. Resistance is felt in the inner thighs.
For elderly persons, certain simple exercises such as the ones below are often prescribed:
- Squeezing of a tennis balls with one’s hand may help to increase and strengthen grip
- Use of small dumbbells to perform chest presses
- Walking: A simple walking program may reverse the effects of atrophy in elderly patients. It is recommended that one takes 30 minutes walk three times a week.
- Aquatic therapy has been used for a number of years now. The use of water reduces the effects of gravity and makes exercises easier.
Patients with Spinal Muscle atrophy may benefit from assistive devices that may help them perform functional tasks. Exercises that cause excessive fatigue should be avoided, particularly in patients whose respiratory function is compromised. Close monitoring and use of oximetry is necessary.