How can you tell if the atrophy you’re noticing is benign or ALS?

Atrophy means muscle wasting; this outcome may have a non-fatal cause, but the appearance comparison is something that’s on the mind of a lot of very worried people.

It stands to reason that when a muscle atrophies due to ALS, it’s going to look very similar to the atrophy that results when a muscle has been on lockdown due to the limb being in a cast from a broken bone.

After all, atrophy is atrophy, as far as what’s happening, correct? The difference is only the cause, correct?

It’s like a ragged gash in a leg. The gash may look the same whether it’s from a dog mauling, a motorcycle accident or a knife attack.

Of course, a doctor or forensic examiner will be able to see details that a layperson can’t detect, and determine that the mess from a motorcycle accident could not have been caused by a steak knife.

So back to comparing the atrophy of ALS to that of a benign or non-fatal cause.

Benign Causes of Muscle Atrophy

• Excessive bed rest (such as from pregnancy, surgery, or some other medical condition that requires a lot of time in bed and a restriction on day to day normal activity)

• Being in a cast or splint for extended periods

• Old age

Serious but not Always Fatal Causes of Muscle Atrophy

• Suffering a stroke

• Head trauma that impairs mobility

• Spinal trauma that impairs mobility

• Orthopedic injury

• Neurological destruction from infection or poisoning

• Neurological impairment from neurological ailment

• Extreme morbid obesity

Does the muscle wasting of a leg, for instance, that’s been in a cast for many months, appear the same as a leg that’s been affected by ALS?

In very early ALS, there is no visible atrophy. But at some point, it will become noticeable.

At what point does it begin looking like the atrophy in the leg that’s just had its cast removed after six months?