What is Atrophy: Types, Symptoms, & Treatment
Muscle Atrophy Definition
What is Muscle Atrophy: It is a type of degeneration where the tissue, muscle, or organ cells stop functioning. This means that your body will break down the muscles and organs until they are no longer alive. There are many types of atrophy: Muscle Atrophy, Spinal Muscular Atrophy, and Vaginal atrophy. Muscle atrophy is the process where there is a decrease in muscle mass and an increase in fat. It can affect anybody’s part, including your arms, legs, stomach, and chest. Disease or other health conditions can cause atrophy, such as cancer, stroke, and AIDS.
The significant causes of muscle atrophy include physical inactivity and aging. Physical activity helps keep your muscles strong and healthy, but they will eventually waste away without it. Atrophy usually affects the weaker portions of tissue first; for example, the muscles in people with polio may become smaller and more fragile than those of a person without the disease.
Types of Atrophy
There are three types of atrophy: muscle atrophy, spinal muscular atrophy, and vaginal atrophy.
- Muscle Atrophy
Muscle Atrophy is the most common type of atrophy. It occurs when your muscles shrink and weaken because they aren’t getting enough nutrition; this means that you will lose muscle mass over time, becoming less intense and flexible. Muscle Atrophy can affect all parts of your body, including:
This atrophy type is usually seen in physically inactive, elderly, or suffering from a disease. Medications can also cause muscle atrophy, such as corticosteroids, which treat conditions like asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. When these drugs are used long-term, they can cause muscle wasting.
There are generally two types of muscular atrophy: disuse and neurogenic atrophy.
Disuse atrophy is the most common type, and a lack of use causes it. For example, if you don’t use your arm for a long time, the muscles will weaken and shrink. This can also happen to the leg muscles if you are bedridden or use a wheelchair.
Damage to the nerves that supply the muscles causes neurogenic atrophy. This damage can be from several things, such as
- Diseases like polio, multiple sclerosis, and cerebral palsy
- Injury to the spinal cord
- Certain types of cancer that affect the nerves, such as leukemia
- Spinal Muscular Atrophy
Spinal muscular atrophy is a form of muscular dystrophy. Spinal muscular atrophy, or SMA, can affect all muscles in your body, but it most commonly affects the muscles that control movement and breathing. Certain viruses which cause this disease attack the nerve cells. Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a genetic disorder that causes the muscles to weaken over time, leading to problems in movement and loss of physical activity.
It affects about 30,000 individuals in North America alone, so many people are unaware of this disease. The disorder results from damage to the nerve cells that control the muscles, specifically in the spinal cord. This means that individuals with SMA can lose muscle mass and strength in their arms and legs. There is currently no cure for SMA, but treatments are available that help improves the quality of life for those who have it.
SMA usually starts in early childhood and worsens as the child gets older. The first symptoms include:
- Weakness in the legs and hips
- Difficulty swallowing or moving the tongue, which can lead to feeding problems
- Weakness in the arms and upper body
Although it is unclear why SMA affects only specific muscles, research suggests that this may be because of a lack of an essential protein called survival motor neuron (SMN) proteins. As children with SMA get older, they typically lose the ability to walk or use their hands for other things, such as typing or brushing their teeth. They may also have difficulty breathing and require help with these activities.
Types of Spinal Muscular Atrophy
There are three types of SMA: Type I, Type II, and Type III.
– Type I is the mildest form of the disease and usually begins early six months. Children with this type typically have average intelligence and live into adulthood.
– Type II is the most common form of SMA and begins in early childhood, between six months and two years. Children of this type have a shortened lifespan, typically living in their teenage years or early twenties.
– Type III is the most severe form of SMA and usually begins within the first few months of life. Infants of this type rarely survive beyond two years old.
- Vaginal Atrophy
Vaginal atrophy is a thinning of tissues that make up the vaginal walls. It’s most common among women undergoing menopause, but it can also affect young women. The main symptoms of vaginal atrophy are dryness, itching, and burning. The tissues can also become thin and less elastic, leading to pain during sex. Vaginal atrophy results from decreased estrogen levels in a woman’s body due to menopause, ovarian failure, or other conditions like cancer treatments. Estrogen is the hormone that helps keep the vaginal tissues healthy and lubricated. Without estrogen, these tissues can become thin and dry.
Symptoms of vaginal atrophy include:
– Vaginal dryness
– Itchy, irritated skin around the vagina and vulva (the visible parts of your genitals)
– Pain during sex or pelvic exams
Treatment for vaginal atrophy
Its treatment includes a vaginal moisturizer or cream to help relieve symptoms. You can also try using a water-based lubricant during sex. If these treatments don’t work or if you experience severe pain, your doctor may recommend estrogen therapy. This treatment involves applying a vaginal cream containing estrogen directly to the vagina every night for up to 14 days. Your doctor will likely have you stop using this creme after about two weeks because too much estrogen can cause side effects like nausea, breast tenderness, and headache.
Treatment for Atrophy
SMA is a progressive disease, meaning that it gets worse over time. There is no cure for SMA, but treatments are available to help improve the quality of life for those who have it.
There is no cure for SMA, but treatments are available to help improve the quality of life for those who have it. These include:
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Speech therapy
- Assistive devices, such as wheelchairs and braces
- Medications to help with breathing problems
- Surgery to help with swallowing difficulties
Importance of Muscle Atrophy Prevention
Atrophy is an essential condition to be aware of because it can lead to many health problems. Older adults need to prevent atrophy because it can lead to falls and other injuries. There are a few things you can do to help prevent atrophy, including:
- Staying active
- Eating a healthy diet
- Taking care of your bones and joints
- Quitting smoking if you smoke
- Avoiding prolonged periods of inactivity
The best way to prevent atrophy is to stay active. Exercise helps keep muscles strong and flexible, preventing the breakdown of muscle cells that leads to atrophy. It also helps stimulate new cell growth, so your muscles stay healthy and strong for years to come.