What is Mitochondrial Myopathies?

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Jun 28, 2011

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Quick Bites

  • Mitochondrial myopathies are a group of neuromuscular diseases.
  • It is caused by damage to the mitochondria.
  • Muscle weakness or exercise intolerance are the common signs.
  • Physical therapies could help with the movements of the muscles

Mitochondrial myopathies are a group of neuromuscular diseases caused by damage to the mitochondria—small, energy-producing structures that serve as the cells' "power plants."


mitochondrial myopathies


Nerve cells in the brain and muscles require a great deal of energy, and thus appear to be particularly damaged when mitochondrial dysfunction occurs. Some of the more common mitochondrial myopathies include Kearns-Sayre syndrome, myoclonus epilepsy with ragged-red fibers, and mitochondrial encephalomyopathy with lactic acidosis and stroke-like episodes.



The symptoms of mitochondrial myopathies include muscle weakness or exercise intolerance, heart failure or rhythm disturbances, dementia, movement disorders, stroke-like episodes, deafness, blindness, droopy eyelids, limited mobility of the eyes, vomiting, and seizures. The prognosis for these disorders ranges in severity from progressive weakness to death. Most mitochondrial myopathies occur before the age of 20, and often begin with exercise intolerance or muscle weakness. During physical activity, muscles may become easily fatigued or weak. Muscle cramping is rare, but may occur. Nausea, headache, and breathlessness are also associated with these disorders.


There is no specific treatment for the mitochondrial myopathies, but it is true that the physical therapies could help with the movements of the muscles and also improve the dexterity. Also, patients are often prescribed to vitamin therapies such as riboflavin, coenzyme Q, and also carnitine which is basically a specialized amino acid. This could potentially improve the fatigue and also the energy levels in a few patients. The response to the treatment is completely subjective; it varies from patient to patient.

Numerous researchers are still working to find specific treatments for the disease. Here it is important to understand the disorders in depth and also to dins some ways in which it could be treated, prevented, and most importantly to find a potential cure for them.


(Image source:Gettyimages)

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