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Muscle Disorders 

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What is it?
The myopathies are neuromuscular disorders in which the primary symptom is muscle weakness due to dysfunction of muscle fiber. 

What are the symptoms?
Other symptoms of myopathy can include muscle cramps, stiffness and spasm. Myopathies can be inherited (such as the muscular dystrophies) or acquired (such as common muscle cramps).

Myopathies are grouped according to the characterization of the primary source of dysfunction.

Some of the groups include: 
-- Congenital myopathies: Characterized by developmental delays in motor skills; skeletal and facial abnormalities are occasionally evident at birth.
-- Muscular dystrophies: Characterized by progressive weakness in voluntary muscles; sometimes evident at birth.
-- Mitochondrial myopathies: Caused by genetic abnormalities in mitochondria, cellular structures that control energy; include Kearns-Sayre syndrome, MELAS and MERRF. 
-- Glycogen storage diseases of muscle: Caused by mutations in genes controlling enzymes that metabolize glycogen and glucose (blood sugar); include Pompe's, Andersen's and Cori's diseases.
-- Myoglobinurias: Caused by disorders in the metabolism of a fuel (myoglobin) necessary for muscle work; include McArdle, Tarui, and DiMauro diseases.
-- Dermatomyositis: An inflammatory myopathy of skin and muscle.
-- Myositis ossificans: Characterized by bone growing in muscle tissue.
-- Familial periodic paralysis: Characterized by episodes of weakness in the arms and legs.
-- Polymyositis, inclusion body myositis, and related myopathies: Inflammatory myopathies of skeletal muscle.
-- Neuromyotonia: Characterized by alternating episodes of twitching and stiffness.
-- Stiff-man syndrome: Characterized by episodes of rigidity and reflex spasms
common muscle cramps and stiffness.
-- Tetany: Characterized by prolonged spasms of the arms and legs.

How is it treated?
Treatments for the myopathies depend on the disease or condition and specific causes. Supportive and symptomatic treatment may be the only treatment available or necessary for some disorders.

Treatment for other disorders may include:
-- Drug therapy, such as immunosuppressives.
-- Physical therapy
-- Bracing to support weakened muscles
-- Surgery

What research is occurring?
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke supports and conducts an extensive research program on neuromuscular disorders such as the myopathies.

Much of this research is aimed at increasing scientific understanding of these disorders, and finding ways to prevent, treat, and cure them.

Sources:
-- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
-- MDA


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