I do have one question about atrophy...

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Distinguished member
Apr 25, 2007
Is it simply muscles getting smaller? Are dents in your muscles really atrophy? OR is atrophy only the shrinking of muscle. Basically what Im asking is an atrophied muscle just smaller or does it take on a different look?
My atrophy is dents they dont look smaller just dents Pat

Everything i've researched is that it is both, dents and just shrinkage. Diff. for diff people


Mine are way smaller. Just gone. Not really dents just skin, bone and some fat left in hands and arms.
I would say i have dents as well as lack of muscles,,,in hands and arms anyway. If i was as talented as Al i could post some pictures. Perhaps i will try and figure out how. Does anyone know about web cams? I have built in one on new computer.

We have the same number of fat cells all our lives

I know just what you wanted to hear right?

My son the ER Doctor shared this with me this morning at breakfast. That everyone has the same number of fat cells all their lives, unless they have lipo suction. The only difference is the fat cells get larger or smaller.

Now why couldn't we be blessed with losing the fat cells instead of the muscle cells?

I've lost 20 lbs in past 6 months and almost all of it was leg muscle tissue. My leg muscles are at least 1/2 their size before this mess, but my big fat belly is bigger. :-D:-D:-D:-D Go Figure!

God Bless
Capt AL
LOL Al, your son coudl have talked all day and not bothered to say that! :-D Cindy
Whenever I look at my husband's arms that are atrophied, this is my impression:

Somebody put the skinny pubescent arms on the very tall strapping man.

Muscles go and bones stay. (and those fat cells LOL)
Another atrophy question

My neuro says he can see the atrophy in my left hand. It is obvious to me and to anyone looking at it. But what I dont understand is that other than the fact that it feels odd (whch is the only way I can describe it), it seems to function pretty well. I can still do everything with it, I think. It is hard because I am right handed and so I have never really noticed what my left hand can and cannot do.
My question is this, how much atrophy does there need to be before the hand loses some motor skills. Can you pretty much lose all of it before there is what might be described as clinical weakness. Or typically, would you expect in ALS for the weakness to precede the atrophy or do they happen simultaneously. I am just confused about this.
My neuro looked at it and said he could see the atrophy but when he strength tested it, his response was "hmmm, strange, you still have good strength in that hand." I think he was as confused as I am! Any insight?
Look, I don't understand either. My husband still has strength with atrophy. But on last visit his left hand strength was slightly less. His arms are skin and bones, but he still has strength, not a lot, but still there. And also stubbornness.
That is what I found confusing, as from what I've read it seems some people with als will just go to do something and they will notice their hand is too weak to do it, and others just seem to slowly lose muscle and become weak, it seems to present all different ways. Although I have no diagnosis yet< I am thirty pounds heavier than normal yet because of baby(that's my exuse anyways) my hands are much smaller and the forearms are so skinny. What I was wondering why do they say there is no pain with als when everyone seems to have pain from it. How could you not have pain when your muscles are shrinking it throws your whole body out of whack, especially the back.
Legs atrophied first from Limb Onset ALS

My experience was that I had the muscle spasms first in my legs before actually atrophy. My Doctor explained it to me this way; the muscles that are in spasms are rubbing against themselves and going into solution in the blood stream, there by destroying the muscles. Over a period of time this results in muscle loss and atrophy.

My leg muscles began to get weaker after a period of about 6 months of spasms. At least noticeable spasms that I could see on the surface and noticeable weakness. They may have been doing that longer and I just did not notice?

Maybe this is not the case with everyone else? It seems there are so many variations with this disease.

God Bless
Capt AL
lhagsjr said:
Is it simply muscles getting smaller? Are dents in your muscles really atrophy? OR is atrophy only the shrinking of muscle. Basically what Im asking is an atrophied muscle just smaller or does it take on a different look?

Hi, Ihag! This is what I have heard about atrophy. When a motor neuron is diseased, it no longer can control its motor unit. This process is called "denervation." Muscle fibers that are denervated lose their ability to contract, and therefore, waste and shrink. This process is called "denervation atrophy." Once muscle fibers are denervated, nerve fibers that belong to healthy motor neurons develop "sprouts" and take over the neural control of denervated muscle fibers. This is so bad. My son atrophied pretty bad. May God bless you!

Atrophy is the complete or partial wasting of a part of the body. The way it presents in ALS is going to depend on what neurons have died. The neurons die and nearby neurons, as Icanmanz says, will attempt to pick up the slack so to speak. The problem is that as time goes on there aren't enough healthy neurons to control all of the muscle tissue. Once this happens any portion of the muscle that isn't connected to a functioning neuron will begin to waste from lack of use. In my case this first presented with the area between the thumb and index finger, the web part, getting thinner and a dent on the outside of my arm when I would bend it near the elbow. So to answer your initial question yes atrophy is just the muscle getting smaller but that doesn't mean that it will be the entire muscle all at once which means dents could be part of it.
Capt. Al:

By spasms, do you mean fasciculations or painful spasms?

Atrophy is difficult to discern. In my case, I can see my forearms are smaller than they were before, but I also have thin arms. Also, how does one differentiate between pathological denting and the muscle definition one has when lifting weights?
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