Could Muscle Atrophy in Elderly be Connected to a Decrease in Nerve Signals?


Loss of leg muscle mass is a natural part of aging and unfortunately as people get older, this loss often leads to impaired movement. The reason for this phenomenon is poorly understood. However, according to a recent article posted on BBC news, researchers may have figured out the reason for leg muscle mass loss associated with old age, which they believe is due to a decrease in nerve signals.

According to the BBC, in a study published in the Journal of Physiology of one hundred and sixty-eight men, researchers found that nerves controlling the legs decreased by around thirty percent by age seventy-five. However, in more athletic and fit elders, there was a better chance of muscle preservation due to re-connecting nerves.

Moreover, research from Manchester Metropolitan University further supports the above finding, reporting a thirty to sixty percent reduction in nerves controlling the legs from the lumbar spine in old age. Manchester Metropolitan University researchers also concluded that although there is a decrease in nerves to the legs associated with aging, surviving nerves of healthy muscles can send out new branches to prevent muscle loss, which is most likely to occur in those with well-developed healthy muscles.

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