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How To Tell If You Are Losing Muscle


Muscular atrophy can be defined as when the voluntary muscles in your hand or leg start thinning, which is also known as muscle wasting. This muscle atrophy or wasting is due to loss of tissues due to lack of physical movement or no physical activity. Muscle atrophy is caused due to a nerve problem called neurogenic atrophy, one of the common types of neuromuscular disorders. The other types of neuromuscular disorders are 

  • Spinal cord atrophy SMA 
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Amyotrophic lateral atrophy causes muscle weakness and is also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. 
  • Diabetic Nephropathy is just a few of the types of neuromuscular disorders. 

Neuromuscular disorders can also be a result of severe issues of malnutrition. Injuries, drinking, stroke can also cause muscle atrophy. This muscle atrophy can be localized and can happen to one type of muscle in a specific part of the body or to a group of muscles or the entire body. 

Causes Of Muscle Atrophy

As said earlier, muscle atrophy can result from a lack of movement, and when muscle atrophy occurs due to this, it is also known as disuse atrophy. There is various reason why muscle atrophy can occur and are listed below:

  • Bedridden: when a person has been bedridden for a long time, this causes immobility in the body, causing a decrease in glycogen level and its inability to reduce fatty acids. The oxidative action brought about by enzymes helps contract the muscle fibers drops, and the oxygen levels are reduced in the muscle tissues. Due to this, the reductive oxidative volume of mitochondria in the muscle cells reduces, and this is seen more in bedridden patients. 
  • Dermatomyositis: long-term dermatomyositis that causes muscle inflammation and can cause deterioration of the muscle tissues. This also occurs with the thinning of muscle, also known as muscle atrophy. 
  • Injuries in the arm can also cause muscle atrophy due to immobility causing muscle atrophy in the arm. 
  • Muscular dystrophy: muscular dystrophy is a neuromuscular disease that is caused due to mutations in genes. Specific proteins are involved in making muscle growth, and they protect muscle fibers. When mutations of these genes happen, muscle atrophy or muscular dystrophy can occur. Muscular dystrophy is a hereditary disease as mutations in genes can be inherited. 
  • Osteoarthritis: osteoarthritis is also considered to cause muscle atrophy. 
  • The Amyotrophic Lateral Symptom is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, distorting the muscle nerve cell. It is also considered to cause muscle atrophy. It occurs as the neurons connecting muscles and brain cannot transmit electrical impulses, leading to muscle nerve cell deterioration. This deterioration of nerve cells also causes muscle atrophy. 
  • Diabetic Neuropathy: Diabetic neuropathy can also cause muscle atrophy as they cause a rise in the level of glucose in the body and cause muscle loss. 
  • Polio: Polio which is caused due to a virus called Poliovirus, is also linked to causing muscle atrophy. A person who the virus might infect can experience weakening in the muscle and may also start muscle loss in previously infected regions. 
  • Poor nutrition or malnutrition can also lead to muscle atrophy. People whose diet does not contain the required amount of protein, fruits, and vegetables show muscle reduction. Eating a balanced diet is very important. Malnutrition-based muscle atrophy can also develop due to underlying diseases like Irritable bowel syndrome, Celiac diseases. A person with Cachexia may also suffer from muscle atrophy. Cachexia is a condition in which a person experiences extreme weight loss and can be a symptom of various diseases like cancer or HIV. 
  • Age: Age is another factor, or why a person may experience muscle atrophy. As we grow, the body cannot produce proteins that promote muscle growth. And the protein which helps in muscle growth is reduced, which causes muscle tissues to shrink and can cause Sarcopenia. 
  • Genetics: we have heard about muscle dystrophy, which loses motor nerve cells and causes muscle atrophy. 
  • Any injury previously that has damaged the nerves which control voluntary muscles. If muscle atrophy is caused due to this reason, then it is called neurogenic muscle atrophy. 

Symptoms Of Muscle Atrophy

The symptoms of Muscle atrophy vary, and every individual has a different experience of symptoms as Muscle atrophy is a disorder. It is also a consequence of other diseases or disorders. Hence, the symptoms of Muscle atrophy vary from person to person. Some of the common symptoms noted in literature are as follow: 

  • An individual may experience an alteration in consciousness or attentiveness, like passing out or inattentive.
  • A person affected by muscle atrophy experiences speech that is garbled or slurred, or the incapacity to speak
  • One might also experience an inability to move a body part due to paralysis.
  • One can also experience a drastic shift in eyesight, vision loss, or eye pain.
  • One can also feel Immediate numbness and weakness on one side of the body
  • One amongst your legs or arms appears significantly smaller than the other.
  • You have significant weakness from one limb.
  • You’ve remained insufficiently active for a longer length of time.

When should you think of consulting the doctor? 

When another disease triggers muscle atrophy, you may have to be tested to determine the cause.

  • Your doctor will request your comprehensive medical history. You will almost certainly be requested to
  • Inform them of any previous or current illnesses, as well as any previously identified medical issues.
  • Offer a complete description of your symptoms, mention medication, over-the-counter drugs, and vitamins you’re consuming. 
  • The doctor might also ask you to perform a blood test, Magnetic resonance imaging (X-rays) (MRI), muscle or nerve biopsy, electromyography computed tomography (CT) scan (EMG), as all of these will help the doctor to diagnose you thoroughly. 

Treatment For Muscle Atrophy

The medication you receive will be determined by your diagnosis and the severity of your muscle loss. One must resolve any underlying health challenges. Among the most common therapies for muscular atrophy are:

  • Patients diagnosed with muscle loss are asked to exercise a lot. 
  • The doctor might also ask you to undertake Ultrasound therapy. Ultrasound therapy is a nonsurgical therapeutic technique that uses sound vibrations to heal. 
  • The doctor might also subject you to physical therapy. Physiotherapists can educate you on how to exercise correctly. A doctor will help you perform specific stretches and particular exercises to help you move in physical therapy. This will also give you muscle strength. Doctors can also move your legs and arms when you have problems moving. 
  • You might also consider getting surgery in cases where you suffer muscle atrophy in localized areas. If your muscular shrinkage is caused by starvation, surgery may be able to repair the malformation. It might be able to assist you if a ruptured tendon has led to significant muscular atrophy.
  • If malnutrition is one of the causes of muscle atrophy, the doctor might suggest dietary changes that will help you improve your muscle mass and exercise, and a healthy lifestyle.


Muscle Atrophy is a disorder in which a person starts losing muscles as the muscle tissues deteriorate over time. Muscle atrophy is caused by various reasons, primarily due to the muscles’ immobility. There are various reasons why this could happen, and also, many uncontrollable factors like age and genetics can cause muscle atrophy. Muscle atrophy can also be one of the symptoms of various underlying diseases; hence having a great observation is critical. 

Certain factors are out of human control, like age and genetics, but you can include a healthy diet that contains high protein and fruits and vegetables. Along with a healthy diet, one must keep their body physically active, and this will also help you avoid muscle atrophy which can be caused due to a lack of immobility. Look after yourself, and your loved one’s in case if you notice your one limb or hand appears to be thinner than the other its better to start consulting a doctor before you start taking any medication, and also it is better to inform your doctor of any previous treatment or injury during the diagnosis treatment.