Muscle atrophy
Muscle atrophy

What is Muscle atrophy

Muscle atrophy or muscle wasting, leads to reduction of muscle tissue. Small or no physical exercise and a sedentary lifestyle are common causes of muscular atrophy, in this instance called disuse atrophy. Other common causes of disuse atrophy include medical conditions that decrease mobility, such as rheumatoid arthritis (chronic autoimmune disease characterized by joint inflammation) or osteoarthritis (thinning and weakening of the bones), and injuries, such as broken bones and burns. The aging process often results in slow but progressive muscle atrophy.

Muscle atrophy caused by a nerve problem is known as neurogenic atrophy. Common causes include neuromuscular diseases, such as spinal cord atrophy, multiple sclerosis (disorder which affects the brain and spinal cord causing fatigue, coordination, balance issues, and other problems), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease; a severe neuromuscular disease which causes muscle fatigue and disability), or Guillain-Barre syndrome (autoimmune nerve disorder). Diabetic neuropathy, nerve damage associated with diabetes, can also lead to atrophy of the muscles.

In some cases, muscle atrophy may be an indication of severe malnutrition or alcohol-related muscular disorder. Injuries or trauma to nerves because of spinal cord injury, burns, or stroke can also lead to muscle atrophy. Based upon the cause, atrophy may occur in one muscle, a set of muscles, or the whole body, and it might be accompanied by numbness, pain or swelling, in addition to other types of neuromuscular or skin ailments .

Muscle atrophy can occur after long periods of inactivity. If a muscle doesn’t receive any use, the body will eventually split it right down to conserve energy.

Muscle atrophy that develops because of inactivity can occur whether a person remains immobile while they recover from a disease or injury. Getting regular exercise and trying physical therapy can reverse this form of muscle atrophy.

People are able to treat muscle atrophy by making certain lifestyle changes, looking for physical therapy, or undergoing surgery.


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