Muscle Function Loss: Types, Causes, and Treatment

Loss of muscle function occurs when your muscles are not working or moving properly. Full loss of muscle function, or paralysis, implies being incapable of contracting your muscles normally.

If your muscles loose their function, you will not be able to correctly operate the affected portions of your body. This symptom is often an indication of a severe problem in your body, This may include a serious injury, drug overdose or coma. (1)

Losing muscle function may be permanent or temporary. However, any loss of muscular function must be treated as a medical emergency.

Types of muscle function loss

Losing muscle function may be partial or total. Partial loss of muscular function affects only our body and is the primary symptom of stroke.

The complete loss of muscle function, or paralysis, affects the entire body. This is common in individuals with serious spinal cord injuries.

If a loss of muscular function affects both the upper and lower half of your body, it is referred to as quadriplegia. If it affects just the lower half of your body, it is referred to as paraplegia.

What conditions cause loss of muscle function?

Losing muscle function is often caused by nerve failure that sends signals from your brain to your muscles and makes them move.

When you are in good health, you have control over the muscle function of your voluntary muscles. Voluntary muscles are skeletal muscles under your control.

Involuntary muscles, As your smooth muscles of the heart and intestine, do not come under your conscious control. However, these too may stop working. Losing function from involuntary muscles can be fatal.

Voluntary loss of muscle function may be due to a few things, including diseases that affect your muscles or nerves.

Diseases of the muscles

Diseases which directly affect the performance of your muscles are responsible for the majority of cases of loss of muscular function. Two of the most common muscle conditions that result in loss of muscle function are muscular dystrophy and dermatomyositis.

Muscular dystrophy is a group of diseases that result in the progressive weakening of muscles. Dermatomyositis is an inflammation of the skin that results in muscular weakness and a distinctive rash.

Diseases of the nervous system

Diseases which affect how your nerves transmit signals to your muscles may also result in loss of muscle function. Some disorders of the nervous system which cause paralysis are:

  • polio
  • stroke
  • Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS)
  • botulism
  • neuropathy
  • cerebral palsy
  • Bell’s palsy, causes partial paralysis of your facial area

Many diseases which lead to loss of muscle function are hereditary and found at birth. (2)

Injuries and other causes

Serious injuries also represent a significant number of paralyzed cases. Like, if you fall off a ladder and injure your spine, you could suffer a loss of muscular function.

Taking long-term medications and side effects of medications may also cause loss of muscle function.

Diagnosing the cause of muscle function loss

Before you prescribe treatment, your physician will begin by diagnosing the cause of your loss of muscular function. They’re going to start by looking at your medical history.

The location of your loss of muscular function, the areas of your body affected, and Your other symptoms tell us something about the underlying cause. They can also carry out tests to assess the function of your muscles or nerves.

Medical history

Tell your physician if you experience a sudden or progressive loss of muscle function.

Also Include the following as well:

  • any extra symptoms
  • the medications you take
  • if you find it difficult to breathe
  • If you experience a temporary or recurring loss of muscle function


Once you have completed a physical exam and reviewed your medical history, your physician can administer tests to see if a nerve or muscular condition causes your loss of muscle function.

Some of these tests may include:

  • muscle biopsy
  • nerve biopsy
  • MRI scan of your brain
  • nerve conduction study

Treatment options for muscle function loss

Treatment options are based on your needs. These include the following:

  • occupational therapy
  • physical therapy
  • surgery to treat underlying muscular or nervous injuries
  • functional electrical stimulation, which help to paralyzed muscles by sending electrical shocks to your muscles
  • medications such as aspirin or warfarin (Coumadin) help to reduce risk of stroke

Preventing muscle function loss

Some reasons for loss of muscle function are difficult to avoid. But you may want to take steps to reduce your risk of stroke and prevent accidental injury:

  • To reduce your risk for stroke, eat a well-balanced diet, which is rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Exercise regularly, including 150 minutes of moderate to 75 minutes of intense activity a week.
  • Stay away from smoking and limit your drinking alcohol.
  • To reduce the risk of accidental injury, avoid alcohol and always wear your seat belt when travelling in a motor vehicle.

Long term outlook for people with muscle function loss

In certain cases, your symptoms will disappear as a result of treatment. In others, you may suffer from partial or complete paralysis, even after the medication treatment.

Your long-term prospects depend upon the cause and seriousness of your loss of muscle function. Consult your physician to learn more about your health and prospects.

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