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Distinguished member
Aug 29, 2008
I have a question for anyone that has atrophy.

What does it feel like?

I have had issues with my right tricep. When i stretch my arm out it feels like it stays flexed for a moment after I relax. If i do an exercise like a dip, it hurts/burns immediatly. If I raise my arm over my head, the muscle kind of burns like it is tired.

I have many other symptoms which I have posted in previous posts but I dont want to make this a long post so I will not go into them again here.

Once again, is there any pain, burning, with muscle atrophy AND what is the diffreence between fatigue and weakness...if any? If I can lift the same amount of weight but only twice instead of 10 times, is that weakness? Thanks for your replies!

CB in Ohio
My leg muscles don't burn, but they ache like I've been working out when I haven't. .... I can walk only a fraction as far as I used to along the Hudson (my usual walking path) before they're weak and I feel unsteady. ~ and they'll ache the next day or so after.

Spasticity makes various movements too slow, like I can't tap my foot to the music, but I wouldn't say I notice a delay in the muscle relaxing.

The thing I've noticed most with weakness is that its in the little everyday things, gripping a cotton ball between my fingers to take off nail polish, pushing down to flush the toilet. I can do these things, but the effort required is different now. Its not like I'm looking for weakness, instead its more like a surprise - I notice more effort - Cook pans that I cannot hold with my arm extended, etc.... I'm not a gym rat, but I think it would be the inability to do as many repetitions at first that one would notice, as muscles can't recover from being stressed, or a combination of tiring easily and the inability to lift what one could before.

CB, where are you at with your doctor appointments, has anything been found?
Hi Rose-

I went to a neuro about 2 months ago. The results were that nothing is wrong with me and the twitches are BFS. He did an EMG, but it was shoddy at best. Since that time I have had this new symptom as well as some others. My right forearm will burn when I type for a while. My arm will shake when doing certain exercises. I am right handed so my right has always been stronger and if my right shakes when benching, my left should to but that is not the case. Something is terribly off but I cant see any atrophy and I am not sure if this is the beginning of something. Another newer symptom that I have is dry eyes at night. I wake up in the middle of the night and they are bone dry. My left eye is worse than my right. Do you have any type of diagnosed yet? How long have you had symptoms? Thanks for your reply, I bet those walks by the river are nice this time of the year.

CB in Ohio
Hello CB...I have no diagnoses for ALS, but I do have atrophy noted by doctors and denervation. The atrophy (thinning) against my outer knee, and going up my thigh, does not 'feel' like anything, outside of fasciculations and minor muscle spasm. To use it is a different story.

Weakness of the muscle is the main problem. Hope that helps!
lovelily, thanks, that does help. Every little bit of input helps.

CB in Ohio
Hi cb

I have thinning and noted atrophy on my outer ankle and around my knee and thigh of left leg. The only thing I note is that my ankle feels sprained alot or my feet ache alot. My knee feels weak or my leg may buckle, not falling, just a give out and I am still standing. I have no diagnosed and have every als test with the exception of spinal tap. Good luck
Muscle atrophy

Rick didn't have any feelings of pain or stiffness or anything when we noticed the atrophy in his right calf particularly. It happened one late spring day when the weather was very warm and he decided to put on shorts for the first time of the season. He walked away from me and I noticed that his one calf was skinny. He used to have tremendously large calves, and this one was almost gone. When he sat down you could see loose and dimpled skin where the muscle used to be. He had been having some staggering in his walking, particularly on uneven ground, and he did have some weakness as far as lifting himself from a low sitting position. It has been over a year now, and there has been no worsening, although his legs don't match in measurement.... and the other is just beginning to thin. He still has no pain or discomfort.
I do want you to know, that if you do have ALS, you should not be trying to strengthen
yourself with lifting weights and strenuous exercise. It will weaken you instead. There is a fine line of stamina or lack of in a PALS, that if you step over the line, fatigue will sap you faster. After you have a busy activity, you should even rest before the next one. The muscles are not being nourished correctly from the nerves, because of the disease, so you must protect your muscles to maintain them as long as you can. I know that when, for instance, Rick forced himself to mow the lawn with our push mower, he nearly collapsed with exhaustion after only a couple times around the yard. He perspired readily and was flushed and short of breath. He can, for instance, carry armloads of wood into the house from the shed, but rest between each load, and moving slowly as not to work up a perspiration. He helps in so many other ways, and I do the "hard" work around the house..... I hope this helps you to understand more of what you mentioned in your post. My very best to you. M
Hey CB, so..... exactly what is it that's going on with the economy right now? Just kidding, I saw your post on another thread, but didn't want to hijack it. :cool:

It looks like you've gotten some good responses to your question. I did read where you said your doctor didn't find weakness, but it takes quite a while before that can be clinically assessed. I remember before that you mentioned the dry eye problem. Have you gone to a rheumatologist? There are some autoimmune conditions that could be the underlying cause.
I (supposedly) have atrophy on left lower calf by ankle and on left lower forearm. I don't really feel anything that I would describe as weakness that is obviously linked to either example of atrophy. So I don't think I can answer what atrophy feels like. But I can comment on weakness. I have heard people here and elsewhere ask if a leg or arm feels weak. I am not sure how to interpret that. What does it mean to feel weak? Does just asking this question mean I don't experience weakness? I don't know...but this is what I do know:

1) I feel as if I have to extend considerably more effort to do ordinary things. Don't get me wrong, I can still do those things, and if anyone was watching they might never know that I am expending more effort than I normally would. I have done the "double-take" countless times as I realize something seems extra heavy...looking again at a bottle of pop because it felt so heavy I thought it must be frozen....or at a swinging door because it seemed like something was blocking its motion...or at a tray of food because I only had MY lunch on it but felt like I was carrying food for four...or inside my bag to see if there are a couple of textbooks along with the laptop.... I CAN still do everything I could "before", it is just harder. Climbing stairs and getting up from a chair require a whole lot of effort, but I can do both, just not gracefully, and in such a way that most observers would not know that it is harder to do (my family, however, is well aware of the difficulty with stairs as it is impossible to hide at the end of the day). I will probably faint if the day comes when I CAN'T do something like turn a key. Recently, though, some (light) gardening proved REALLY difficult and it WAS obvious to my new neighbors who came by to see if I was ok.

2) Doing those ordinary things impacts my muscles as if I was doing something extraordinarily difficult. My arm will shake with fatigue after holding cell phone to ear for a short conversation. Walking for more than 15-20 minutes causes my left leg to misbehave (foot slaps, foot scuffs, toe stubs, and/or I trip). Wrist will ache after typing a short email. I am ALWAYS sore as if I have "over did it" even though I really didn't do anything. I am still paying for that (light) gardening even though it has been days.

So those are my observations on weakness, from someone with no diagnosis ( oh wait, I DO have a BFS diagnosis....with neuro confirmed weakness and atrophy...don't get that at all)

Hope this helps

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