Encyclopedia Home / M / Muscle atrophy

Muscle atrophy

  • Alternative Names

    Muscle wasting; Wasting; Atrophy of the muscles

    Home Care

    An exercise program (under the direction of a therapist or doctor) is recommended to help treat muscle atrophy. This may include exercises in water to reduce the muscle workload, and other types of rehabilitation.

    People who cannot actively move one or more joints can do exercises using braces or splints.

    Call your health care provider if

    Call your doctor for an appointment if you have unexplained or long-term muscle loss. You can often see this when you compare one hand, arm, or leg to the other.

    What to expect at your health care provider's office

    The doctor will perform a physical examination and ask questions about your medical history and symptoms, including:

    • When did the muscle atrophy begin?
    • Is it getting worse?
    • What other symptoms do you have?

    The doctor will look at your arms and legs and measure muscle size to try to determine which nerve or nerves are affected.

    Tests that may be performed include:

    • Blood tests
    • CT scans
    • Electromyography (EMG)
    • MRI scans
    • Muscle or nerve biopsy
    • Nerve conduction studies
    • X-rays

    Treatment may include ultrasound therapy and, in some cases, surgery to correct a contracture.