Muscle disorder

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A muscle disorder includes patterns of weakness, electromyogram (EMG) findings, or biopsy results that suggest a muscle problem. The muscle disorder can be inherited, such as muscular dystrophy, or acquired, such as alcoholic myopathy.

The medical name for muscle disorder is myopathy.

Alternative Names

Myopathic changes; Myopathy; Muscle problem


The main symptom is weakness.

Other symptoms include cramps and stiffness.

Exams and Tests

Blood tests sometimes show abnormally high muscle enzymes. If a muscle disorder might also affect other family members, genetic testing may be done.

When someone has symptoms and signs of a muscle disorder, tests such as an

, , or both can confirm whether it is a myopathy. A muscle biopsy examines a tissue sample under a microscope to confirm disease. Sometimes, a blood test to check for a genetic disorder is all that is needed based on someone’s symptoms and family history.


Treatment depends on the cause. It usually includes:

  • Bracing
  • Medication
  • Physical therapy
  • Preventing the condition from getting worse by treating the underlying condition causing the muscle weakness
  • Surgery (sometimes)

Your health care provider can tell you more about your condition and treatment options.


Borg K, Ensrud E. Myopathies. In: Frontera WR, Silver JK, Rizzo TD Jr, eds. Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation: Musculoskeletal Disorders, Pain, and Rehabilitation. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 135.

Selcen D. Muscle diseases. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 421.

Version Info

  • Last reviewed on 1/5/2016
  • Joseph V. Campellone, MD, Division of Neurology, Cooper University Hospital, Camden, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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