Myopathies are a category of diseases related to dysfunctions in the muscles. There are different types of myopathies, and they each have their set of symptoms. The overall result is muscle weakness. When there is a malfunction whether chemical or mechanical, we will lose function of the muscle. Myopathies do not affect just one muscle, but all of them. You may think that the brain strictly controls muscles. That is not true. Other mechanisms and pathways happen for the proper functioning of muscle. If any of those pathways are disrupted, the muscle will not function and may start to atrophy. Treatment is dependent upon the type of myopathy you have. Some can be treated and allow you to live a normal life, with other forms, the treatment is not as effective. No matter what myopathy you have, it is important to seek a rheumatologist for help.
The primary function of muscle is movement. Without muscle, we would not be able to move at all. Bones do not move by itself; it only moves because of the contraction of muscle. Muscle also helps with posture. You have about 700 muscles in the body. There are three different types of muscle: visceral, skeletal, and cardiac. The visceral muscle lines the inside of organs, skeletal muscle form around the bones, and cardiac muscle is in the heart. There are nerves connected to each muscle fiber. When we think about moving, the motor neuron (nerve cell in muscle) is stimulated. Chemicals are released that open different channels in the muscle. You have ion channels that produce calcium for movement. You then have the ATP pathway that helps with energy. There are many steps and they all happen very quickly. When any one of those pathways stops working properly, you are likely going to have a myopathy.
Different things cause myopathies. Some are genetic. These diseases are carried in the genes. You pass them down from generation to generation. There are times where you have the gene inside of you, but you do not have the disorder. That means the gene is recessive. If you have a child with someone who also has the gene, then your children are at a high risk for having the disease. Toxins and bacteria may also cause myopathies. When you come in contact with certain things it can develop the disorder. Inflammatory problems are a cause as well. Finally, hormone and electrolyte imbalances can be an issue.
Types of Myopathies
Myopathies are divided into two categories: acquired or inherited. The inherited myopathies form from genetic dysfunction. Acquired myopathies can happen due to toxins, infections, and imbalances. Acquired myopathies are a result of the following:
- HIV infection
- Thyroid Problems
Here are some acquired myopathies:
- Glycogen pathway dysfunction
- Acid maltase
- Mitochondrial malfunction
- Congenital myopathies
- Muscular dystrophy
- Metabolic myopathies
- Mitochondrial myopathy
Each one of these myopathies ranges in severity. Prognosis and treatment are dependent upon which myopathy you have.
Some myopathies do not require treatment at all. In mild cases, they can go unnoticed. In other cases, just lifestyle changes help with treatment. Changing your diet and exercising more can help with certain myopathies. It strengthens the muscles and helps them to function better. Other myopathies require medication. Some drugs help to suppress the immune system if immune dysfunctions are causing the problem. Some drugs help to fight off the infections and viruses. Physical therapy is also useful. Therapy can restore strength and improve fatigue. Unfortunately, a few myopathies have no treatment at all. Eating right and exercise might help some but it will not rid you of all your symptoms and cure you.
The prognosis of myopathies is dependent upon the myopathy you have. There are those who live completely normal lives and may not even know they have myopathies. Other people cannot move at all and are unable to live without assistance. Particularly with muscular dystrophies, treatment is not very effective. Sometimes the disorder is progressive. The muscles slowly wear away until you cannot move at all. Eating is even impossible. The more the muscle lose function, the harder it is to survive. No matter what type of myopathy you have, you should get treatment.
Myopathies are sometimes very difficult to handle. Without our muscles, we cannot move and just do daily activities. We cannot sit up straight or walk. Genetic testing is very important. Just knowing if you carry a gene for myopathies can help you protect your future children from the disease. If you notice muscle weakness or other symptoms, talk with a physician right away. Getting treatment early can help improve your prognosis. Getting knowledge of these conditions can help you learn ways to prevent them. Hopefully one day a cure can come for all myopathies.
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