Adynamia: Characteristics And Causes Of This Movement Disorder

This symptom linked to weakness occurs in many physical and psychological disorders.


There are different pathologies that affect the movement of people, but one of the most intense is adynamia.

We are going to delve 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?

Adynamia is a symptomatology that the human being can suffer by which the muscles of the body lose practically all of their strength, which causes the person suffering from it to have many difficulties to perform any type of movement, and even be unable to get to effect them.

This includes, of course, the very action of standing up and walking, so the subject in question will spend most of the time sitting or lying down, since he lacks the energy necessary to adopt another posture that implies a standing position, that is, , to lean on your own legs.

Therefore, the condition of adynamia appears as a symptom in a large group of alterations whose origin can come from both a physical and psychological disorder. Later we will delve into some of them and see what differences exist between the different types.

The important thing, and that we must take into account, is that adynamia can occur in multiple ways, depending on the pathology behind it and the characteristics of the individual. Therefore, it will be vital that the healthcare professional make a correct evaluation to issue an appropriate diagnosis, which allows the application of 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 muscular weakness, which is what is preventing the subject from carrying out the movements of his body. The point is that this weakness can be true or perceived, depending on the cause that is causing it.

In this sense, the true weakness of the muscles would be one in which there is an organic cause that directly affects the muscles themselves, such as an injury or a defect in the fibers, for example. This would be a case of adynamia.

The other type of weakness would be perceived. In this case, the ailment is not caused by a problem in the muscles, which are apparently well at a physiological level, but rather that the subject would be suffering from some alteration in his basal metabolism and this would cause him to have the feeling of not being able to move the muscles (and Indeed, he could not 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, it does not mean that the other is not, in the sense that, although there is no neuromuscular dysfunction, something is happening to the patient. person, either organically or psychologically. Therefore, both are real causes, although one is called true and the other perceived, since the nomenclature meets another criterion, as we have already seen.


We have already anticipated that adynamia can occur in a great variety of diseases, and therefore, on many occasions, it is one more symptom of a group of them that are the ones that help the doctor 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.

1. Injury

One of the causes that can motivate the lack of strength in the musculature is an injury or trauma. What happens is that, generally, these types of events occur in very localized areas, so the 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 in our body and cause 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 cause this problem is hypothyroidism.

3. Autoimmune disease

Autoimmune diseases are another of the main causes of adynamia, and many of these pathologies, among their symptoms, include alterations in our ability to use muscles, either due to inflammation, pain or other causes. Very clear examples of this type of disease would be celiac disease or lupus, among others.

4. Cancer

Cancer is a disease that encompasses so many assumptions and ways of attacking the body, that it is not surprising that some of them affect the mobility of the subject due to a depletion of the muscles, so we would be facing yet another possibility of generating adynamia in the subject.

5. Infection

Some types of infection in the body 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 part of the symptoms of the disease in question.

6. Psychological disorders

Although all the cases that we have seen so far correspond to organic diseases, we had already indicated previously that these are not the only possibilities to suffer from adynamia, and that the cause may well not have a physical basis, but rather a psychological one, and not because of This will affect the individual less, so it is important to always consider this route as well, since the person also suffers the effects of this ailment.

Psychological disorders as frequent in the population as depression can include forms of adynamia in their symptoms, 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 injury to the musculature that affects their ability to contract).

It is not the only one, because in eating disorders, such as anorexia, a muscle weakness could also be generated in the person affected by said pathology compatible with the diagnosis of adynamia.

Returning to the question of the problem of diagnosis, it should be noted that the professional must always assess all the possibilities, since cases have been referred to people with a history of psychological problems (schizoaffective disorder, in the specific case at hand) who, stating symptoms of adynamia, they were referred to the mental health unit, only to later discover that he was actually suffering from severe anemia, in addition to nutritional problems and a lack of vitamins.

This case shows that, although sometimes there may be a clear diagnosis at first, it is advisable to always be cautious and not close any doors, as there may be elements that at first glance have escaped us and are actually the true causes of the evil that we investigate (adynamia, in this case). To avoid these problems, there are protocols that professionals follow to the letter, to discard 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 last a very specific type of pathology, the so-called episodic Gamstorp adynamia. This disease is also known as hyperkalemic periodic paralysis.

It is a rare disease, caused by mutations in certain individual genes (specifically on chromosome 17), whose alteration causes difficulties for neuronal communication through sodium channels, and is related to a high level of potassium in the body of the patient. subject.

The reason for having left this pathology for last is that, in this case, adynamia, and also in a very extreme way, would make up practically all the symptoms of this ailment. Patients who suffer from it indicate that they suffer from constant weakness in their muscles, reaching paralysis, and that this can appear for various causes, either due to changes in temperature, significant efforts, experiencing moments of high stress or even when using certain medications.

According to studies, the paralyzes suffered during this type of adynamia are concentrated in periods ranging from one to two hours, and are usually more frequent first thing in the morning or after having rested after having carried out physical activity.

The positive part is that the episodic adynamia of Gamstorp improves as the age of the patient increases. You can also 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 shape without causing muscle paralysis.

Bibliographic references:

  • Narberhaus, B., Cormand, B., Cuenca-León, E., Ribasés, M., Monells, J. (2008). Hyperkalemic periodic paralysis: presentation of a Spanish family with the p mutation. Thr704Met in the SCN4A gene. Neurology.
  • Rodríguez, GM, Rosselli, DA (2017). Asthenia and adynamia in a patient with schizoaffective disorder: not everything is in the mind. Universitas Médica.

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