Muscle disorder

  • Definition
    • A muscle disorder includes patterns of weakness, 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 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
      • Medication
      • Physical therapy
      • 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. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 135.

      Selcen D. Muscle diseases. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 421.