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Muscle disorder

Definition

A muscle disorder includes patterns of weakness, loss of muscle tissue, electromyogram (EMG) findings, or biopsy results that suggest a muscle problem. The muscle disorder can be inherited, such as muscular dystrophy, or acquired, such as alcoholic or steroid myopathy.

The medical name for muscle disorder is myopathy.

Alternative Names

Myopathic changes; Myopathy; Muscle problem

Symptoms

The main symptom is weakness.

Other symptoms include cramps and stiffness.

Exams and Tests

Blood tests sometimes show abnormally high muscle enzymes. If a muscle disorder might also affect other family members, genetic testing may be done.

When someone has symptoms and signs of a muscle disorder, tests such as an electromyogram, muscle biopsy, or both can confirm whether it is a myopathy. A muscle biopsy examines a tissue sample under a microscope to confirm disease. Sometimes, a blood test to check for a genetic disorder is all that is needed based on someone's symptoms and family history.

Treatment

Treatment depends on the cause. It usually includes:

  • Bracing
  • Medicines (such as corticosteroids in some cases)
  • Physical, respiratory, and occupational therapies
  • Preventing the condition from getting worse by treating the underlying condition causing the muscle weakness
  • Surgery (sometimes)

Your health care provider can tell you more about your condition and treatment options.

References

Borg K, Ensrud E. Myopathies. In: Frontera, WR, Silver JK, Rizzo TD, Jr, eds. Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation: Musculoskeletal Disorders, Pain, and Rehabilitation. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 136.

Selcen D. Muscle diseases. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 393.


Review Date: 10/8/2019
Reviewed By: Alireza Minagar, MD, MBA, Professor, Department of Neurology, LSU Health Sciences Center, Shreveport, LA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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