Muscle loss - diagnosis and therapy

How to recognize a disease causing muscle atrophy

In addition to the typical clinical symptoms, which are more pronounced depending on the type of different muscle groups and often already point the way to the doctor, laboratory tests and functional tests lead to a diagnosis. Muscular dystrophies typically result in an increase in muscle enzymes in the blood, which is due to the massive reduction in muscle mass.

All forms of muscle atrophy show typical changes in electromyography. The muscle activity is pathologically altered - in dystrophies you can see many small discharges, in the nerve-related forms, there is a massive decrease in single discharges. With a muscle biopsy and genetic tests, the individual forms can be finally separated from each other.

What can be done to prevent muscle atrophy?

Muscular wasting disorders are not curable so far, but put many sufferers and their relatives high hopes in gene therapy. Although in many research institutions around the world the genetic defect, its effects on the body and possible countermeasures researched - a genetically engineered remedy for even a form of muscle wasting unfortunately not found.

All therapeutic measures are therefore aimed at compensating for and halting the muscular atrophy caused by movement and coordination. In addition, sequelae such as contractures, wheelchair-accessible walking disabilities or respiratory diseases, which are caused by the decreased coughing, must be treated. Since many forms of muscle wasting are extremely stressful for those affected and often represent an enormous care effort for their relatives, tips for the daily handling of the disease are very welcome.

Support groups for muscle wasting

Many self-help groups and the initiatives Deutsche Muskelschwundhilfe and the German Society of Muscular Diseases have many years of experience with the various forms of muscle wasting. The Weserbergland Clinic Höxter is the specialist clinic for muscle diseases in Germany.

Especially in patients with more severe forms of muscle wasting, the hospital program helps stop the progression of the disease. It consists of:

  • intensive physiotherapy
  • water aerobics
  • heat baths
  • massages
  • Electrical stimulation treatment
  • muscle training

Patients who undergo the clinic program for several weeks each year report that complaints have been resolved for months.

Can one prevent muscle wasting disease?

Since almost all forms of muscle loss are hereditary, they can not be prevented. The tricky thing about them is that they often follow an autosomal or X-linked recessive mode of inheritance. In plain language, this means that apparently healthy people can be transmitters of the disease and the disease is passed on over generations, without a family member necessarily ill.

A test of whether someone is a carrier of one of the many muscle wasting forms, is currently not possible and in the very variable course of many forms, even with regard to ethical-moral aspects of the consequences may be only partially desirable.

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