The doctor understands muscle hypotonia to be insufficient muscle tension with simultaneous weakness of the muscles, which is already noticeable in childhood. It always occurs as a symptom of an underlying disease and is treated with physiotherapeutic measures.
What is muscle hypotonia?
The term muscular hypotonia is composed of muscles and the Latin word “hypotonous”, which means “decreased strength or tension” and is in itself a very accurate description of the symptoms. See electronicsmatter for Miller Fisher Syndrome Definition.
Those affected suffer from a severely reduced strength, especially of the striated muscles. This muscle group includes cardiac and skeletal muscles, i.e. above all the muscles of the body that are responsible for voluntary, actively controlled movements.
Muscle hypotonia becomes noticeable because those affected move very little and have to exert themselves far beyond the normal extent when making movements. In childhood, for example, parents notice the child’s abnormal effort when breastfeeding.
The causes of muscular hypotonia are varied, since it always occurs as a symptom of other underlying diseases, but never as an independent disease.
As a rule, small children are already affected, and this is referred to as infantile muscular hypotonia. The most common underlying diseases include metabolic disorders, the congenital neuromuscular disease nemaline myopathy and neurological diseases, an alcoholic embryopathy and various other congenital disorders. The most important are briefly presented below.
Alcohol embryopathy is a disorder that occurs as a result of significant alcohol consumption during pregnancy, usually in children born to alcoholic mothers. The symptoms are reduced growth, mental retardation, behavioral problems and hypotonia in the muscles. Muscle hypotonia is also a symptom of congenital trisomy 13 (Pätau syndrome), Edwards syndrome and Down syndrome.
In rare cases, the first manifestation of muscle hypotonia occurs later in life. The trigger can then be identified as autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis or Parkinson ‘s disease or damage to the central nervous system acquired through trauma.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
Muscle hypotonia initially manifests itself as balance disorders, muscle hardening and signs of paralysis. In the long term, there are delays in the development of the musculoskeletal system, which can result in malpositions and muscle pain. Muscle weakness also affects the airways and lungs.
Possible symptoms are speech and swallowing disorders as well as shortness of breath. In some patients, the color of the voice changes or there is a complete loss of voice. As muscle hypotonia progresses, fatigue syndrome sets in. The child then complains of pain and tiredness after physical exertion, often accompanied by increasing listlessness.
The reduced activity is usually associated with loss of appetite and emotional upsets. If the cause of muscle hypotonia is not treated, the symptoms will continue to progress. This quickly leads to a decrease in quality of life and well-being. In addition, poor posture occurs as a result of the weakness, which is associated with further health risks.
Possible consequences of a persistent bad posture are joint wear, muscle pain and tension. Muscle weakness can also promote circulatory disorders and sensory disorders. The blood vessels are also strained by the reduced muscle activity. If diagnosed early, the symptoms of hypotension subside quickly. The majority of patients are free of symptoms at the latest one to two months after treatment of the cause.
Diagnosis & History
Parents usually raise the suspicion of muscle disorders in young children. Muscle hypotonia is characterized by very little movement compared to the age group, great exertion, for example when breastfeeding, and reduced head-elevating ability.
In this case, a visit to a pediatrician is highly recommended. In a detailed anamnesis, he will find out about the symptoms observed by the parents and possible risk factors before he physically examines the child in detail.
The diagnosis is made differently depending on age, the patient’s posture when standing and walking, lying and sitting, his movement skills and motor endurance are relevant. Ultimately, it must also be diagnosed which muscle groups are most affected.
The prognosis of muscular hypotonia depends on the underlying disease, no general statement can be made.
Muscle hypotonia is usually a complication in itself. For this reason, the main treatment is the underlying disease that leads to muscle hypotonia. The complaint itself can significantly restrict the affected person’s everyday life and lead to problems with movement and various activities. The development of the child is also significantly restricted by the disease.
The patients suffer from severe muscle weakness and thus also from a significantly reduced resilience. The patient’s posture is also not straight and can therefore have a negative effect on adulthood and possibly lead to irreversible consequential damage. The muscles appear very weak, so that the practice of various sports is usually no longer possible for those affected.
The treatment itself takes the form of treating the underlying disease. It is generally not possible to universally predict whether complications may arise. With the help of various therapies, most symptoms can be alleviated and limited so that there are no consequential damages in adulthood. The life expectancy of the patient is usually not reduced by the muscular hypotonia.
When should you go to the doctor?
Muscle disorders are considered unusual. If they persist or if the symptoms increase in intensity, a doctor is needed. If general physical performance decreases, medical advice should be sought. A doctor should be consulted in the event of muscle pain, paralysis or restrictions in natural movement options. If there is a developmental delay in children, swallowing disorders or problems with the formation of sounds, a doctor should be consulted. Apathy, listlessness or reduced well-being are signs of an existing irregularity.
Clarification by a doctor is necessary as soon as the symptoms persist for several weeks or show an increasing tendency. If the person concerned no longer takes part in their usual social activities, if they experience mood swings or other behavioral problems, they should see a doctor. Loss of appetite, an unwanted decrease in body weight or an increased need for sleep means that the organism is impaired.
A doctor is needed if sleep disorders occur, if there are abnormalities in voice production or if there are changes in the skeletal system. In the case of a permanent bad posture or a crooked posture while moving, a timely correction must be made so that there are no lifelong disorders. If the affected person can no longer participate in usual sporting activities due to the impairments, a doctor should be consulted.
Treatment & Therapy
The treatment of muscular hypotonia takes place in two ways: On the one hand, the underlying disease must be treated as well as possible, on the other hand, attempts are made to increase mobility with physiotherapeutic measures.
The underlying diseases can be treated differently depending on the severity and the exact syndrome: While there is no effective therapy for either Edwards syndrome or Patau syndrome and children with these trisomies generally have a low life expectancy, the chances are good for those affected by Down syndrome better.
With good early support with curative education, occupational therapy, physiotherapy and psychomotor procedures, those affected have the prospect of almost normal physical activity. Muscle hypotonia caused by alcohol embryopathy can also be treated so well that affected children can achieve almost normal physical activity.
Physiotherapeutic measures are aimed at improved posture control, conscious fine motor movements and a dosed application of strength. The exercises to be learned and the duration of the treatment depend on the affected muscle groups and the severity of the symptoms.
The exercises can be carried out on equipment, for example in a wheeled bin or on what is known as a horse, and without any aids and must be carried out daily.
Outlook & Forecast
With timely early support and ergotherapeutic and physiotherapy therapies, patients have good prospects of living with almost normal physical activity. The therapeutic measures are aimed at improving posture control and more conscious fine-motor movements with dosed application of force. The learning of the exercises and the duration of the therapy depend on the affected muscle groups and the symptoms that occur. These exercises can be done on special equipment and without any aids. Those affected should do the exercises daily. The disease can significantly restrict the everyday life of the patient.
The muscle hypotonia mainly leads to discomfort when moving and performing various activities in those affected. The development of sick children is also very clearly restricted by muscular hypotonia. Those affected suffer from very severe muscle weakness and thus also from a greatly reduced resilience. The posture of those affected is also not straight and thus has a negative effect on later development. The wrong posture can even lead to incurable consequential damage.
In general, the muscles are very weak, so that the practice of different sports is usually no longer possible for those affected. With the help of the various treatment methods, however, most complaints can be alleviated so that there are no later consequential damage. Life expectancy is usually not limited.
Since the causes of muscle hypotonia are varied and not all underlying diseases can be influenced, there are no preventive options. It is advisable to ensure that you eat a healthy diet during pregnancy that is not harmful to the child.
In the case of muscle hypotonia, those affected usually only have very few and often only limited direct follow-up measures available. For this reason, the person concerned should contact a doctor as early as possible so that other symptoms or complications do not arise. The sooner a doctor is consulted, the better the further course of this disease.
Early diagnosis usually has a positive effect on the further course of muscle hypotonia. Those affected themselves are usually dependent on the measures of physiotherapy and physiotherapy. Many of the exercises can also be performed at home to speed healing. Parents should also ensure that their children have the right posture in order to alleviate the symptoms.
Those affected by muscular hypotonia are often dependent on the help and support of their own families in everyday life. It can also prevent depression and other mental upsets. Contact with other patients with the disease can be very useful, as it is not uncommon for information to be exchanged. The disease usually does not reduce the life expectancy of those affected.
You can do that yourself
Muscle hypotonia requires extensive medical treatment and monitoring. The most important self-help measure is to regularly adapt the drug and physiotherapeutic therapy to the current state of health of the patient. In this way, the progress of treatment can be optimized and the quality of life and well-being of those affected can be improved in the long term.
Assuming good early support with physiotherapy and psychomotor procedures as well as ergotherapeutic measures, there is a prospect of a normalization of movement behavior. However, the patient must do exercises to strengthen the muscles every day. Accompanying this, a change or adjustment of lifestyle habits is indicated. Exercise and a healthy, balanced diet are important cornerstones of treating hypotonia.
In addition, the doctor will recommend a therapeutic consultation to the patient. In a conversation with a specialist, the diverse problems associated with muscle hypotonia can be discussed. If desired, the therapist can also establish contact with other sufferers or refer the patient to a self-help group. Taking the prescribed medication regularly is just as important. An optimally adjusted medication reduces the typical pain and thus also prevents any secondary diseases such as premature joint wear or poor posture.