Difference Between Atrophy and Dystrophy (With Table)

Muscular dysfunctioning is a serious issue faced by many people. From atrophy to dystrophy, this lack of movement could result in a lack of muscles and power in the body. However, these two are different from each other on medical grounds.

Atrophy vs Dystrophy

The main difference between atrophy and dystrophy is that muscular atrophy occurs as a result of ageing, or infected with a disease like polio, or even by acute malnutrition, whereas muscular dystrophy is more a heredity challenge. It’s usually has a genetic mutation at its roots.

Atrophy is a medical situation where a species loses its body muscles because of mutations, poor feeding, acute circulation, or even loss of hormonal support. Atrophy reduces the cell size, organs and tissues. In the case of humans, they experience loss of mass, muscles, shrinking of body fat and weight.

Muscular dystrophy is a genetic condition where a species suffers from progressive mass loss, weakening of muscles with time. Well, it’s because of a lack of a protein called dystrophin that builds the muscles and allows them to function properly. This is a heredity challenge where this protein cannot be formed in the body resulting in swallowing, walking problems, or even muscle coordination.

Comparison Table Between Atrophy and Dystrophy

Parameters of Comparison




Atrophy is a medical situation where a person suffers from loss of muscles due to several factors.

Dystrophy is a genetic condition where a person loses its ability to function and power.


Atrophy causes degeneration of muscles or even loss of mass of the body.

Dystrophy is caused due to lack of protein that affects the functionality of muscles.


The muscle loss, weakness, loss of force, strength in muscles, and high tissue loss.

There’s gradual retardation in muscle, less strength, decreased movements like walking—mobility challenges.


Atrophy can be cured by physiotherapy when you will keep doing regular exercise, improving nutrition and lifestyle.

Dystrophy is a genetic challenge hence cannot be treated. But to eliminate pain to some extent, occupational therapies would work.

Risk wise

Atrophy is a mild problem that can be cured.

Dystrophy is a risk-full disease, or even loss of life can happen.

What is Atrophy?

Well, atrophy is a challenge where a person suffers from mass loss due to lack of nutrition, acute scanty of food, suffering from some chronic or acute diseases like polio. This tends to lose and decrease the body cells, the shrinking of organs, or several other vital tissues in the body.

Cells at a certain age undergo atrophy, not under physiologic condition. This also results in a reduction in metabolic activities and a lack of active participation in any sort of sports or work. The lack of vitamins and protein weakens the body by alleviating the size of muscle tissues.

The symptoms could be like your arms won’t be similar anymore. Either one would shrink or maybe both. Weakness in one limb. Physically inactive for a long time. Inactive or lack of enthusiasm to participate in work and sports. Muscle Atrophy could also happen if you are inactive for a longer duration. But these kinds of problems can be treated with patience.

It can also happen if you’re bedridden and not able to move joints due to some medical problems. Before things go bad, it’s important to consult a specialist who can recommend you physiotherapy that will eventually help you to become atrophy free. Ultrasound therapy, surgery, changes in diet and nutrition, exercises are also some options to cure atrophy.

What is Dystrophy?

Muscular dystrophy is a combination of genetic disease that destroys the body cells and organs that result in the weakening of muscles and power. It is caused because of a lack of a protein called dystrophin that builds the muscles and power up your body tissues. This absence can lead to a weaker part of life like swallowing, walking challenges, weakening of muscles coordination.

It can happen at any age, but mostly it occurs in childhood. It depends upon the type and the severity of symptoms. Well, most people lose the ability to walk and eventually, they need supporters or wheelchairs to facilitate themselves. Since it’s a genetic challenge, there’s no such cure, but various therapies can eliminate up to a larger extent.

Symptoms like trouble walking, loss of arm reflex, posture, lack of enthusiasm, bone thinning, lack of energy, breathing challenges, mild impairments, pain in joints, difficulty while standing and sitting, lung and heart weakness, swallowing challenges.

As said earlier, there’s no treatment as such. But treatment include assisted ventilation, medication, surgeries to correct body postures, treating scoliosis, surgeries to treat cardiac problems. Therapies play a greater role in eliminating this problem with significant positive results. Strengthening of muscles, maintained diet plans, and range of motions will surely help.

Main Differences Between Atrophy and Dystrophy

  1. Atrophy is a Medical condition where a person suffers from an acute shortage of body cells, whereas dystrophy is a condition where a person suffers from a lack of protein.
  2. Atrophy can happen because of bedridden or several diseases like polio, while dystrophy is a genetic disease.
  3. Symptoms of Atrophy include weakening of muscles, loss of cells, and shrinking of organs, while symptoms of dystrophy are swallowing, less movement of muscles.
  4. Atrophy can be treated since it’s a disease that isn’t genetic, while dystrophy has no treatment as such.
  5. Several surgeries and therapies will eventually help the patient, while only therapies can work to ease to some extent.


Atrophy and dystrophy are some severe challenges that might occur anytime. From kids to teenagers and adults, anyone could face these severe heartbreaking problems. But not every muscle loss is atrophy. Well, consulting doctors and including meds on a daily basis will surely help in treating atrophy.

While dystrophy is an incurable disease that might occur in young kids. They can need wheelchairs to move around since it restricts the movement of muscles in the body. Exercising and having routine check-ups will help in many ways.


  1. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaneurology/article-abstract/587866
  2. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1016/j.nurt.2008.08.013