Multiple sclerosis consists of an immune-mediated procedure, where immune system responses abnormally against the body’s central nervous system consisting of the optic nerves, brain and the spinal cord.

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Can Multiple Sclerosis Cause Muscle Atrophy?

In case an individual suffers from multiple sclerosis, he or she may suffer from one of the common types of atrophy named muscle atrophy, caused from disuse of respective muscles.

Why Muscle Atrophy Takes Place?

Whenever individuals suffer from multiple sclerosis or MS, increase in muscle tightness or tone i.e. spasticity takes place because of myelin sheath loss or demylination in various pathways responsible to carry movement or motor signals from the patients’ brain. Because of the damaged pathways, nerve signaling towards body muscles becomes slow, which leads to clenching up or hardening of muscles on own. Because of spasticity, muscles suffer spasms or become stiff and rigid, which further cause severe pain. With time, patients may stop using their certain body muscles because of spasticity resulting in muscle atrophy, where muscles waste away and in turn, appear small. (1)

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Overview And Symptoms of Muscle Atrophy

Muscle atrophy refers to the wastage or loss of specific muscle tissues to make it small or thin. Common symptoms to identify the problem of muscle atrophy include the following-

  • Frequent falls, difficulty in walking and balance problems
  • Difficulty in swallowing or drinking and speaking
  • Gradual memory loss
  • Facial weakness
  • Impaired coordination and physical balance
  • Loss of coordination and impairment in physical balance
  • Tingling or numbness in legs and arms
  • Progressive numbness and/or weakness
  • Progressive loss in body movement

How Doctors Identify Muscle Atrophy Due To Multiple Sclerosis?

  • Whenever people complain their problem of muscular weakness, doctors check the texture, bulk and tenderness of their body muscles.
  • In some cases, doctors check the muscles for involuntary movements and twitches, which further indicate any nerve disease.
  • Doctors diagnose wasting away of body muscles i.e. atrophy, which usually take place because of muscle damages in combination with prolonged bed rest.

Doctors check for hypertrophy i.e. muscle enlargement, which often takes place because of weight lifting or any other similar type of physical exercise. However, hypertrophy in most of the cases takes place when a person’s specific muscle works very hard to compensate for weakness suffering by any other muscle.

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Types of Muscle Atrophy Occurs from Multiple Sclerosis

Until now, multiple sclerosis is responsible to cause two different types of muscle atrophy in patients. These include the following-

Disuse Atrophy- Disuse atrophy takes place due to lack of enough physical exercise. In most of the people, muscle atrophy takes place if they do not use certain muscles or fail to use because of multiple sclerosis problem. For instance, individuals with sedentary jobs or medical conditions limiting their body movements and reduced activity levels usually lose their muscles tones and develop the problem of atrophy. On the other side, bedridden individuals deal with severe muscle wasting. However, you may reverse this condition with improved nutrition options and regular physical exercise.

Neurogenic Atrophy- Neurogenic atrophy is a severe form of muscle atrophy and it takes place whenever you suffer from injury and/or any nerve related disease, including the problem of multiple sclerosis. Neurogenic type of muscle atrophy often takes place more suddenly as compared to the disuse one and it is irreversible, as you experience actual physical damage to nerves.

In this case, doctors use NMES i.e. Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation as an effective physical therapy to apply electrical muscular stimulation with the help of small electrical impulses to muscles and nerves with the aim to create muscle contractions in an involuntary way. Accordingly, doctors use electrodes to send electrical impulses by placing them on their muscles or skin present on the muscles.

Conclusion

Yes, multiple sclerosis results in the problem of muscle atrophy, especially neurogenic type of atrophy, which is a severe one.

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18395451

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Sheetal DeCaria MD

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

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Last Modified On: April 13, 2019

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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