Muscle Atrophy, Definition, Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention, Complications

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Muscle Atrophy, Definition, Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention, Complications

Muscle atrophy is a condition when muscles shrink and thin due to loss of muscle tissue. This condition can result in a decrease in muscle size and density, as well as a loss of muscle strength.

Muscle atrophy generally occurs when the body is difficult or unable to move due to certain injuries or diseases. Muscle atrophy can also be caused by energy and protein malnutrition in the long term.

Muscle atrophy can be treated with lifestyle changes, a balanced diet, exercise, or physiotherapy. If necessary, the doctor may also consider surgery.

Causes of Muscle Atrophy


Muscle atrophy can be caused by a variety of conditions, including:

  • Muscles are not used or rarely used for a long time, for example because of paralysis or bed rest
  • Injury
  • Burns
  • aging process
  • Malnutrition
  • stroke
  • Cancer
  • Long term use of corticosteroid drugs


Muscle atrophy can also occur due to diseases or medical conditions that cause muscles to become weak or make it difficult for the sufferer to move, namely:

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig .'s disease
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Guillain-BarrĂ© . syndrome
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Neuropathy
  • Dermatomyositis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Polio (poliomyelitis)
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • spinal injury


Symptoms of Muscle Atrophy


Muscle atrophy can cause a variety of symptoms, depending on the cause. However, the main sign of this condition is the reduction in the size of the muscle affected by atrophy.

Other signs and symptoms that may result from muscle atrophy include:

  • The atrophic arm or leg is smaller than the normal arm or leg
  • Weakness in one or more body parts
  • Difficulty performing various activities, such as walking, swallowing, or maintaining balance


When to go to the doctor

In some cases, muscle atrophy can be a sign of a dangerous condition. Immediately call the ambulance service on number 119 to get medical attention, if you find someone who has muscle atrophy and is accompanied by other serious symptoms, such as:

  • Decreased level of consciousness
  • Speech is not clear and difficult to understand
  • Unable to move limbs
  • Paralysis on one side of the body
  • Visual disturbance
  • Great headache
  • Hard to breathe


Diagnosis of Muscle Atrophy


To diagnose muscle atrophy, the doctor will ask the patient's medical history and symptoms. Next, the doctor performs a physical examination of the patient's arms and legs, as well as assessing their strength and measuring their muscle mass.

After that, the doctor will perform further examinations, namely:

  • Blood tests, to detect infection and signs of malnutrition
  • Muscle biopsy, to analyze the growth of abnormal muscle cells or tissue, as well as distinguish muscle atrophy from other diseases
  • Electromyography (EMG), to assess the ability of muscles and nerves to a stimulus
  • Nerve conduction test, to see how fast the ability of nerves to transmit electrical signals
  • Scan with CT scan or MRI, to see muscle structure in more detail

Muscle Atrophy Treatment


Treatment of muscle atrophy depends on the diagnosis and the severity of the muscle wasting. Please note, conditions or diseases that underlie muscle atrophy need to be treated first.

Some of the treatment methods for muscle atrophy are:

Physical activity and sports

Regular exercise can restore muscle tissue that has decreased in mass and strength due to muscle atrophy. The choices of sports that can be applied include walking, cycling, and swimming.

Physiotherapy

Physical therapy or physiotherapy aims to train muscle mass lost due to muscle atrophy. This therapy is generally performed in patients who suffer from severe muscle atrophy, or in patients suffering from certain diseases, such as stroke, paralysis, or cancer.

Electrical stimulation therapy

This type of therapy uses small electrical impulses that are sent to the patient's nerves and muscles. The electrical impulses that flow will trigger the function of nerves and muscles to be able to contract so that the patient can move his limbs.

Ultrasound therapy

Ultrasound therapy is a procedure that uses sound waves to accelerate the healing of muscle atrophy. This type of therapy aims to increase circulation to muscle tissue, tendons, joints, and ligaments, as well as to stretch the muscles.
 

Operation

Surgery may be performed to correct contracture deformities caused by malnutrition. Contracture deformities are conditions when tendons, ligaments, skin, or muscles become too tight, preventing the sufferer from moving freely.

Changes in diet

If muscle atrophy is caused by malnutrition, your doctor will suggest dietary changes. The doctor will work with a nutritionist to design a healthy diet for the patient. In addition, the doctor will also prescribe nutritional supplements to complement.

Complications of Muscle Atrophy


Muscle atrophy that is treated too late has the potential to cause complications such as:

  • Decreased movement ability
  • Balance disorders
  • Permanent disability
  • Paralysis
  • Easy to fall and get injured


Prevention of Muscle Atrophy


For someone who has risk factors for muscle atrophy, there are several preventive steps that can be taken, namely:

  • Keep moving actively according to the doctor's advice, even though you are just recovering from a serious illness
  • Perform routine passive movements in bedridden patients
  • Increase intake of nutrients, including protein


In addition to the above preventive measures, other preventive measures that can be taken include:

  • Get complete immunization, to prevent polio
  • Implement a healthy lifestyle
  • Regular exercise and muscle training
  • Avoid unhealthy habits, such as smoking and consuming alcoholic beverages
  • Wear personal protective equipment when driving and working to avoid accidents

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