Usually, our muscles are always under some amount of tension, even when we are completely relaxed. This is considered to be completely normal. On the other hand, having your muscles overly relaxed and floppy, losing their tone, are all symptoms of a condition named hypotonia.
Variants of Hypotonia
Hypotonia is not a condition which takes place alone. Rather, it is usually triggered by a different, underlying condition. As for the types of hypotonia, one may suffer from congenital one, being present from the day of birth, or acquired hypotonia, being triggered by an underlying injury, medical condition or trauma.
Congenital Hypotonia vs. Acquired Hypotonia
Congenital hypotonia usually goes hand-in-hand with conditions like Down syndrome or Marfan syndrome. The latter stands for a condition which manifests through alteration of the connective tissue in one’s body, leading to poor support for bones, muscles and organs in the body.Another condition which may lead to congenital hypotonia is quite mysterious – dyspraxia, leading to motion difficulties, troubles with the coordination and language issues. Finally, if a congenital hypotonia has no explainable or diagnosable causes, the condition is named benign congenital hypotonia.
As for the acquired hypotonia, it takes place due to an injury, an infection or other cause of brain or nervous system damage. Thus, conditions like muscular dystrophy, where the muscles are gradually damaged, meningitis, which is an inflammation of the outside membrane of the brain or encephalitis, being the infection of the brain as a whole, all can lead to hypotonia.
Additionally, head traumas or myasthenia gravis, which is a condition manifesting through the immune system attacking the body’s healthy muscles, add on to the list of possible triggers of hypotonia.
Treatment for Hypotonia
Usually, the success of the treatment depends greatly on the underlying cause of hypotonia. In almost all cases, this condition cannot be dealt with and it remains present with the sufferer until the end of his/her life. Fortunately, the symptoms do not get worse as the patient grows older, in most cases.If an infection is triggering this condition, treatment of the cause will lead to disappearance of the symptom. On the other hand, if, for example, muscular dystrophy is causing hypotonia, this condition cannot be treated and it may get worse over time.
The treatment usually involves physiotherapy and occupational therapy. The former is supposed to improve one’s posture and coordination in order to promote increased muscle tone. Also, its goal is making the joints around the muscles stornger for increased stability and support.
Finally, occupation therapy helps people learn how to live and enjoy life with this condition. Here, a person learns how to get dressed properly and quickly, how to use the computer or how to perform many other tasks while suffering from hypotonia.