What Is Muscle Fatigue, Its Causes And Treatment?
Fatigue is a common non-specific symptom experienced by many people and is associated with many health conditions. Often defined as an overwhelming sense of tiredness, lack of energy and feeling of exhaustion, fatigue relates to a difficulty in performing voluntary tasks.1 Fatigue accumulation, if not resolved, leads to overwork, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), overtraining syndrome, and even endocrine disorders, immunity dysfunction, organic diseases and a threat to human health.
There are many different fatigue classification methods. According to its duration, fatigue can be classified into acute fatigue and chronic fatigue. Acute fatigue can be quickly relieved by rest or life-style changes, whereas chronic fatigue is a condition defined as a persistent tiredness lasting >months that is not ameliorated by rest.2, 3, 4 Fatigue can also be classified as mental fatigue, which refers to the cognitive or perceptual aspects of fatigue, and physical fatigue, which refers to the performance of the motor system.1
Muscle fatigue is defined as a decrease in maximal force or power production in response to contractile activity.5 It can originate at different levels of the motor pathway and is usually divided into central and peripheral components. Peripheral fatigue is produced by changes at or distal to the neuromuscular junction. Central fatigue originates at the central nervous system (CNS), which decreases the neural drive to the muscle.5, 6 Muscle fatigue is a commonly experienced phenomenon that limits athletic performance and other strenuous or prolonged activity. It is also increases and restricts daily life under various pathological conditions, including neurological, muscular and cardiovascular disorders, as well as aging and frailty. This review primarily focuses on muscle fatigue, particularly during intense exercise, to provide a basic understanding and potential therapies for muscle fatigue.
Several health conditions can also produce muscle fatigue.
These medical conditions include:
inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis
chronic kidney failure
Treating Muscle Fatigue
Treatment depends on the underlying cause of your muscle fatigue and accompanying symptoms. If you’ve been experiencing muscle fatigue, especially if it’s unrelated to exercise, call your doctor. Your doctor will evaluate your medical history and symptoms to rule out more serious health conditions.
In many cases, your muscle fatigue will improve with rest and recovery. Staying hydrated and maintaining a healthy diet can also improve your recovery time, protect against muscle fatigue and weakness, and ensure you have enough nutrients to promote healthy muscle function.
Be sure to stretch before and after strenuous activity. Warming up can loosen your muscles and protect against injury. If your muscle fatigue persists, hot and cold therapy are techniques that can reduce inflammation and discomfort.
Other cases of muscle fatigue may require medical attention. Depending on your diagnosis, your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory or antidepressant medications. If your muscle fatigue is more severe, you doctor may recommend physical therapy to increase your mobility and speed your recovery. Discuss your options with your doctor before pursuing treatment.
Muscle fatigue can be uncomfortable and disrupt a person’s daily life. Strenuous activity or aging are common causes of muscle fatigue. Sometimes, muscle fatigue is a sign of an underlying medical condition. In these cases, it is important to see a doctor.
Many types of treatment exist for muscle fatigue. Doctors will aim to treat the underlying cause of the problem. They may also recommend a range of other treatments that can improve muscle performance and prevent fatigue.
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