Disuse atrophy is a type of muscle atrophy, or muscle wasting, which refer to a decrease in the size of muscles in the body. Disuse atrophy occurs when a muscle is no longer as active as usual. When muscles are no longer in use, they slowly become weaker. Eventually, they begin to shrink. In some cases, disuse atrophy can be reversed if the muscles become active again
Disuse atrophy can be caused by immobility, such as an arm being in a cast for a long period of time.
It can also occur to some degree if a person stops performing their usual activities, such as walking.
Disuse atrophy often occurs from not using a muscle or a disconnection of the nerve signals to the muscle. The condition often occurs after a period of bed rest after a major surgical procedure, to people with limbs in casts or from becoming bedridden due to illness or age.
The older population is particularly at risk for developing disuse atrophy, as well as those who suffer from joint disease that causes them to become immobile.