Muscle disease (myopathy): an overviewMuscle weakness and muscle pain limit mobility and impair quality of life. In the population, diseases of the muscles are rare, with a frequency of less than one person affected per 2.000 population. Nevertheless, this type of disease should be taken seriously, because those affected suffer greatly from the pain. You can read about the different types of muscle diseases and their causes here.
Muscular dystrophy, a form of myopathy, most commonly affects the shoulder or hip.
Types of muscle diseases
Muscle diseases belong rather to the rare diseases, which, however, severely limit the life of the affected person. There are several types of muscle diseases. In some, the cause lies in the nervous system or in faulty signal transmission between nerve and muscle. In myopathy, on the other hand, the muscle itself is affected by the disease. This form of muscle disease is also known as muscle atrophy and is characterized by weakening and degeneration of the affected muscles.
Mitochondrial myopathy: The cause of this muscle disease is a malfunction of the mitochondria. Mitochondria are a component of every cell. They take over the energy supply. If there is a malfunction of the mitochondria, the muscles are not adequately supplied and consequently degenerate. Congenital myopathyDue to a mutation of certain genes, the muscles in this disease do not develop properly. This is manifested in the fact that affected children often cannot perform muscle movements against gravity. MyotoniaThis muscle disease is characterized by a disturbance in muscle activity. This leads to a stiffening of the muscles or to a lack of relaxation.
Myopathy as a result of other diseases
In addition to primary myopathy, muscle disease can also be the result of other diseases. Metabolic diseases, such as hyperthyroidism, can lead to an undersupply of the muscles, causing them to regress. In addition, there are inflammatory myopathies that are triggered by pathogens or, more commonly, represent an autoimmune disease. In this case, the immune system considers the own muscle fibers as foreign bodies and attacks them. Other rare muscle diseases can be caused by medications, drugs or other exogenous substances.
Muscle atrophy: myopathy or sarcopenia?
Unlike myopathy, sarcopenia affects older people. From about the 40. From the age of 50, the body gradually loses muscle mass unless this process is counteracted by regular exercise and a diet rich in nutrients and protein. The causes are varied and include changes in hormone levels and metabolism that lead to an undersupply of muscles. Sarcopenia is the term used to describe excessive muscle wasting that leads to increasing immobility and need for care if it is not treated. While rare muscle diseases, such as primary myopathy, are not curable, the much more common sarcopenia can be prevented through education and early lifestyle changes.