Adynamia: characteristics and causes of this movement disorder.
This symptom linked to weakness occurs in many disorders, both physical and psychological.
There are different pathologies that affect the movement of people, but one of the most intense is adynamia.
We are going to go into everything related to this disorder to better understand how it develops, what its repercussions are and if there is any treatment with which those affected can experience an improvement.
What is adynamia?
The adynamia is a symptomatology that can suffer the human being by which the muscles of the body lose practically the totality of its force, which causes that the person who suffers from it loses practically the totality of its force.This causes the sufferer to have great difficulty in carrying out any type of movement, or even to be unable to carry them out.
This includes, of course, the very action of standing up and walking, so the subject in question will spend most of his time sitting or lying down, as he lacks the energy to adopt another posture. will spend most of the time sitting or lying down, as he or she lacks the energy to adopt any other posture involving standing, i.e. to stand on his or her own legs. which involves standing upright, i.e., standing on one's own legs.
Therefore, the condition of adynamia is presented as a symptom in a large group of disorders whose origin can come from a physical or psychological disorder. Later we will go into some of them in more detail and we will see what differences are present between the different types.
What is important, and what we must bear in mind, is that adynamia can present itself in multiple forms, depending on the pathology that hides behind and the characteristics of the individual.. Therefore, it will be vital that the health professional makes a correct evaluation in order to make an appropriate diagnosis, which will allow to apply an adequate treatment as soon as possible and thus achieve that the symptoms remit in the shortest possible time.
Types of weakness
The basic symptom of adynamia is Muscle weakness.The basic symptom of adynamia is muscle weakness, which is what is preventing the subject from performing the movements of his body. The point is that this weakness can be real or perceived, depending on the cause that is provoking it.
In this sense, the true weakness of the musculature would be that in which there is an organic cause that directly affects the muscles that directly affects the muscles themselves, such as an injury or a fiber defect, for example. This would be a case of adynamia.
The other type of weakness would be perceived weakness.. In this case the ailment is not generated by a problem in the muscles, which are apparently fine at the physiological level, but rather the subject would be suffering some alteration in his basal metabolism and this would cause him to have the sensation of not being able to move his muscles (and, indeed, he would not be able to move them while this situation lasted).
It is important here to bear in mind that, although the terminology of one of the weaknesses is called true, this does not mean that the other is not true, in the sense that, although there is no neuromuscular dysfunction, something is happening to the person, either at an organic level or at a psychological level. So both are real causes, although one is called true and the other perceived, since the nomenclature is based on other criteria, as we have already seen.
We have already anticipated that adynamia can occur in a wide variety of diseases, and therefore, on many occasions, it is one more symptom of a group of symptoms that help the physician to identify the specific origin of the pathology, in order to prepare a plan of action aimed at curing the person, or at least achieving an improvement.
One of the causes that can lead to a lack of strength in the musculature is an injury or trauma.. What happens is that, generally, this type of event occurs in very localized areas, so that mobility problems would be reduced to the muscles of the affected area, unless the trauma has been very severe and is involving a large part of the body (in an accident, for example). Therefore, this cause of adynamia is relatively easy to identify.
2. Hormonal problem
Certain endocrinological disorders can destabilize some hormones of our organism and cause multiple effects, some of them compatible with adynamia, since we would perceive a lack of strength when moving, with consequent difficulties that this would imply. of our organism and provoke multiple effects, some of them compatible with adynamia, since we would perceive a lack of strength when moving, with the consequent difficulties that this would imply. One of the most common endocrine diseases that could generate this problem is hypothyroidism.
3. Autoimmune disease
Autoimmune diseases are another of the main causes of adynamia, since many of these pathologies, among their symptoms, include alterations in our ability to use our muscles, whether due to inflammation, pain or other causes. Very clear examples of this type of disease would be celiac disease or lupus, among others..
Cancer is a disease that encompasses so many assumptions and ways of attacking the organism that it is not surprising that some of them affect the mobility of the subject due to the exhaustion of the muscles, so we would be facing yet another possibility of generating an adynamia in the subject.
Some types of infection in the organism that have an effect at the muscular level could also cause an alteration in the ability to move in the person suffering from it, so it could be concluded that adynamia is forming part of the symptomatology of the disease in question.
6. Psychological disorders
Although all the cases we have seen so far correspond to organic diseases, we had already indicated previously that these are not the only possibilities for suffering from adynamia, and that the cause may well not have a physical basis, but psychological, and not therefore affect the individual less, so it is important to always consider this way as well, because the person also suffers the effects of this ailment.
Psychological disorders as frequent in the population, such as depression, may include forms of adynamia in their symptomatology, since they can also be caused by the effects of the disease. in their symptomatology, since many patients report feeling unable to move, due to extreme weakness (in this case, it would be of a perceived type, since there is no specific lesion of the musculature that affects its contraction capacity).
It is not the only one, since in eating disorders, such as anorexia, muscle weakness could also be generated in the person affected by this pathology, compatible with the diagnosis of adynamia.
Returning to the question of the problem of diagnosis, it should be emphasized that the professional must always evaluate all possibilities, since cases have been reported of persons with a history of psychological problems (schizoaffective disorder, in the specific case in question) who, manifesting symptoms of adynamia, were referred to the mental health unit, only to discover later that they were in fact suffering from severe anemia, in addition to nutritional problems and lack of vitamins.
This case demonstrates that, although sometimes there may be a clear diagnosis at the outset, it is always wise to be cautious. and do not close any door, because there may be elements that at first glance have escaped us and in fact are the real cause of the disease we are investigating (adynamia, in this case). To avoid these problems there are protocols that professionals follow to the letter, to rule out each alternative without ignoring any of them.
Gamstorp's episodic adynamia
We have reviewed the possible diseases and disorders that can lead to the appearance of adynamia, but we have left for the end a very specific type of pathology, the so-called Gamstorp episodic adynamia. This disease is also known as hyperkalemic periodic paralysis.
It is It is a rare disease, caused by mutations in certain genes of the individual. (specifically in chromosome 17), whose alteration causes difficulties for neuronal communication through sodium channels, and is related to a high level of potassium in the subject's organism.
The reason for having left this pathology for last is that, in this case, adynamia, and moreover in a very extreme form, would make up practically the totality of the symptoms of this ailment. The patients who suffer from it indicate that they suffer from a constant weakness in their muscles, reaching the point of paralysis, and that this can appear for various reasons, whether due to changes in temperature, major efforts, experiencing moments of high stress or even when using certain medications.
According to studies, the paralysis suffered during this type of adynamia is concentrated in periods ranging from one to two hours.They tend to be more frequent first thing in the morning or after resting following physical activity.
On the positive side, Gamstorp episodic adynamia improves with increasing age. It is also possible to contribute to the improvement through diet, reducing the intake of carbohydrates and those elements that contain too much potassium, such as bananas. Likewise, it is recommended to do moderate physical exercises, which maintain a good state of fitness without causing muscular paralysis.
- Narberhaus, B., Cormand, B., Cuenca-León, E., Ribasés, M., Monells, J. (2008). Hyperkalemic periodic paralysis: presentation of a Spanish family with the p. Thr704Met mutation in the SCN4A gene. Neurology.
- Rodriguez, G.M., Rosselli, D.A.. (2017). Asthenia and adynamia in a patient with schizoaffective disorder: it's not all in the mind. Universitas Médica.
(Updated at Mar 28 / 2023)