What is Muscular Atrophy?
Muscular atrophy is a condition when muscle tissue shrinks. This condition generally occurs if the muscle is not moved for a long time, for example, due to a nervous disorder that causes paralysis. To overcome muscle atrophy, it is necessary to know first what type of muscle atrophy occurs and what causes it
When muscle atrophy occurs, the shape of the body can change, for example, one area of the body becomes more concave because the muscles shrink; or look asymmetrical, such as one arm or limb appearing smaller than the other.
Muscular Atrophy Types
Based on the cause, muscle atrophy can be distinguished into 3 types, namely:
Physiological muscle atrophy
What is physiological muscle atrophy? This type of muscle atrophy is commonly experienced by people with low levels of physical activity. For example, too long sitting or lying down and rarely exercise. Due to lack of physical activity, the body’s muscles are increasingly rarely used. This can make muscle tissue shrink and experience atrophy.
Physiological muscle atrophy can also occur in people undergoing long-term treatment in hospital, such as due to paralysis or coma.
Neurogenic muscle atrophy
Neurogenic type muscle atrophy is caused by an injury or disorder of the nerves that serves to move the muscles. Why do muscles not move? When the muscle nerves are damaged, the muscles do not move because they do not get stimulation from the nerves. This makes muscle tissue shrink and causes muscle atrophy.
There are several types of diseases that can trigger the occurrence of neurogenic muscle atrophy, including:
Pathological muscle atrophy
What causes a person to not produce muscle tissue? Pathological muscle atrophy is a type of muscle atrophy caused by certain diseases or medical conditions that prevent the body from forming muscle tissue. Pathological muscle atrophy can be caused by:
What causes muscle mass to decrease? Malnutrition can make the body deficient in protein and calories, so the body cannot produce muscle tissue. This can cause muscle mass to decrease drastically and trigger muscle atrophy.
#2. Cushing’s Syndrome
In Cushing’s syndrome, levels of glucocorticoid hormones in the body increase. The increase in these hormones can cause fat tissue to accumulate, while muscle tissue shrinks so that over time muscle atrophy occurs. Cushing’s syndrome is common in people who use corticosteroid drugs in the long term.
Muscle atrophy can occur in people with advanced cancer. This condition is also called cachexia. In addition to the impact of cancer itself, cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy can also cause side effects in the form of muscle tissue reduction or muscle atrophy.
#4. Muscle contractures
Why do muscles contract? Muscle contractures occur when muscle tissue is replaced by stiff scarring. This makes the muscles difficult or immovable, and eventually a muscular atrophy occurs. Muscle contractures usually occur due to injury, extensive burns, or long-term paralysis.
#5. Autoimmune disorders
Why does muscle shrink? Muscle damage due to inflammation or autoimmune diseases can cause the muscle tissue size to shrink. Some types of autoimmune diseases that can cause muscle atrophy are autoimmune myositis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Muscular Atrophy Signs and Symptoms
There are several signs and symptoms of muscular atrophy that you need to be aware of, including:
- Balance problems that cause the patient’s difficulty walking and often fall.
- Difficulty speaking and also swallowing.
- Muscle weakness in the face.
- Lack of coordination and balance skills.
- It’s getting harder and harder to move.
- Weakness that is felt only in one of the limbs.
If you or someone nearby starts experiencing muscular atrophy symptoms as mentioned above, it does not hurt to immediately check the condition to the doctor.
Muscular Atrophy Diagnosis
How to tell if you have a shrinking muscle? Shrinking muscles can only be detected by a doctor through a physical examination. So, communicate all the complaints you feel in detail, including injuries that have occurred, both in the near future or for a long time; prediagnosed medical conditions; to the list of medications, prescriptions, and supplements you are taking.
If needed, the doctor will perform tests to facilitate the diagnosis of the disease. Tests may include:
- Blood test.
- X-ray photo.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
- Computed tomography (CT Scan).
- Biopsy of muscles or nerves.
- Image: OpenStax, CC BY 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons