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Hypotonia: Low Muscle Tone

Sandeep Dhanyamraju MD
Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju
Sandeep Dhanyamraju MD
Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju

Hypotonia is a medical condition. Decreased muscle tone and strength characterize it. Hypotonia can affect people of all ages, and a variety of factors can cause including:

  • neuromuscular disorders;
  • genetic disorders;
  • abnormalities of the brain and nervous system;
  • metabolic disorders;
  • diseases of the musculoskeletal system. 

Symptoms of hypotonia can include decreased muscle tone and delayed motor development. Babies with low muscle tone can also experience:

  • impaired coordination and balance;
  • language and speech difficulties;
  • abnormal reflexes;
  • abnormal eyes. 

Hypotonia diagnosis usually involves a physical examination of medical history. Doctors then perform diagnostic tests such as:

  • blood tests;
  • imaging;
  • genetic testing to determine the underlying cause. 

Treatment for the disease depends on the underlying cause. It can include physical therapy, medication, or surgery. Early diagnosis and treatment can help to prevent further complications and improve outcomes. So read the following information to know more about this topic.

What is Hypotonia? 

Hypotonus is a state of reduced muscle tone. Weakness in the whole muscle system accompanies this disease. We cannot call reduced muscle hypotonus an independent disease. It occurs as a consequence of other serious causes. Doctors distinguish two types of pathology in adults and  children with hypotonia:

  • congenital;
  • acquired.

Genetic disorders cause congenital problems. External factors cause the acquired:

  • trauma;
  • toxic substances;
  • autoimmune reactions.

Hypotonus is also central and peripheral, local and diffuse: 

  • Central causes cerebral and spinal pathologies. 
  • Local decreased muscle tone develops in a single group of muscles. 
  • Diffuse affects the whole system.

Muscle tone is directly related to the work of the motor sphere. Our nervous system controls this. Often the pathological condition of low muscle tone:

  • decreased or increased muscle tone;
  • changes in motor activity;
  • abnormal, “excessive” movements. 

A qualified neurologist can give an assessment of the norm and pathology of the motor sphere. This disorder can occur in both children and adults. However, it most often affects newborn children. Read more about the symptoms and diagnosis below.

symptoms of hypotonia

Symptoms of Hypotonia

One of the most common symptoms of hypotension is low muscle tone. It can lead to soft or “sluggish” muscles. Hypotonia, also known as low muscle tone, is a medical condition. It can manifest itself with a variety of symptoms. Symptoms of hypotonia can vary depending on the underlying cause. 

They have a link to different parts of the body. The muscles can feel loose or slack and difficult to contract or maintain in a firm state. It can result in weakness, which is another common symptom of hypotonia. 

You can experience weakness throughout the body or localized to specific muscle groups. It can lead to movement and mobility difficulties, including: 

  • standing;
  • walking;
  • sitting upright.

If you or someone you know feels symptoms of hypotonia, it is vital to seek medical attention. A doctor can determine the underlying cause and develop an appropriate treatment plan. Read below in more detail about the symptoms of hypotonia below.

1. Muscular Symptoms

Reduced muscle tone, or “lethargy,” is one of the most common symptoms of hypotonia. Hypotension can affect muscles throughout the body. It leads to difficulty with posture, movement, and strength. Infants with hypotension can have difficulty in:

  • lifting their head;
  • sitting or crawling. 

Older children and adults can experience muscle weakness. Fatigue with physical activity is not uncommon.

2. Motor Symptoms

Hypotonia can also affect motor development, particularly in infants and children. Delayed motor development is a common symptom of hypotonia and can affect many steps, such as:

  • turning over;
  • sitting up;
  • crawling;
  • walking. 

Poor coordination and balance are also common symptoms of low muscle tone. It makes it difficult to perform activities requiring precise movements: 

  • writing;
  • playing sports.

3. Speech Symptoms

Speech difficulties are a common symptom of hypotonia and can require speech therapy. Hypotonia can affect the muscles used in speech, resulting in difficulty:

  • articulation;
  • pronunciation;
  • vocalization. 

4. Neurological Symptoms

Abnormal reflexes are a common symptom of hypotonia. They can be a sign of underlying neurological problems. They need further examination. These abnormal reflexes can appear as reduced or absent reflexes or hyperactive reflexes. 

They often occur without stimulation. Other neurological symptoms of hypotonia can include seizures, developmental delays, and mental retardation.

5. Other Symptoms

Hypotonia can also affect other body parts, including the eyes and digestive system. People with hypotonia can have eye abnormalities such as:

  • strabismus (strabismus);
  • nystagmus (involuntary eye movement). 

Digestive symptoms can include difficulty with swallowing or gastroesophageal reflux (GERD).

Causes of Hypotonia

Hypotonia or low muscle tone, a variety of factors can cause it. They affect muscle tone, strength, and coordination. The underlying cause of hypotension can vary from person to person. So why are there abnormalities in the muscles? 

First of all, as a consequence of suffering hypoxia (lack of oxygen) in labor or during pregnancy. If oxygen starvation cells of any organ deplete their reserves they stop working or die. So they don’t have the nutrients and strength to perform their functions. 

As a consequence, the child develops various disorders. The most sensitive organ to oxygen deficiency is the central nervous system. Muscle tone almost always determines the dynamics of motor development. And any deviations from the norm can interfere with the natural movement process. For example, a low muscle tone in the arm does not allow the child to:

  • roll over onto their back or pick up
  • hold a toy in their hand

The impaired tone in the legs does not allow them to get on all fours, crawl or sit up. Read below about all the causes of hypotonia.

1. Neuromuscular Causes

One of the most common causes of hypotension is a problem with the neuromuscular system. It handles coordination between the muscles and the nervous system. Some diseases can cause hypotension by affecting muscles or nerves, such as:

  • cerebral palsy;
  • muscular dystrophy;
  • spinal muscular atrophy.

It results in decreased muscle tone and strength.

2. Genetic Causes

Genetic disorders can also cause hypotension. Because they affect:

  • the genes responsible for muscle;
  • nervous system development and function.

 Examples of genetic disorders that can cause hypotension are:

3. Brain and Nervous System Causes

Brain and nervous system deviations can be a cause of hypotonia. Because they disrupt the connection between the brain and the muscles. 

Conditions such as brain malformations and cerebral palsy can cause hypotension. They disrupt the transmission of signals between the brain and muscles. Also, spinal cord injuries can often cause this disorder.

4. Metabolic Causes

Metabolic disorders can cause hypotension. Because they affect the chemical processes that provide energy to the muscle. Examples of metabolic disorders that cause hypotension are:

5. Other Causes

Other conditions that can cause hypotonia to include musculoskeletal disorders, such as:

  • scoliosis;
  • hip dysplasia. 

It can affect the alignment and function of the muscles and bones. Infections, such as meningitis or encephalitis, can also be one of the causes of hypotonia. It occurs by affecting the brain and nervous system.

Hypotonia Diagnosis

Hypotonia examination usually involves a comprehensive physical examination. It includes a physical examination and a review of your medical history. During the physical examination, the doctor will assess the individual’s:

  • muscle tone;
  • reflexes;
  • coordination;
  • other neurological functions. 

They can also test:

  • motor development;
  • speech skills;
  • eye movements.

It is essential to diagnose babies with low muscle tone as early as possible. This is necessary to provide the person with appropriate treatment for hypotonia and support.  Early diagnosis can also help to prevent further complications and improve outcomes.

If someone you know is experiencing symptoms of hypotension, you should take care of them. We recommend that you seek immediate medical attention from a qualified healthcare professional. Remember to choose a specialized neurology clinic for hypotonia diagnosis.

What Tests Diagnose Hypotonia?

It is important to note that specific tests can vary depending on:

  • medical history;
  • symptoms;
  • the results of the physical examination.

       The following tests can help diagnose:

  1. Blood Tests. Doctors can do blood tests. It will help check for metabolic abnormalities. They can also investigate other medical conditions that can cause hypotension.
  2. Imaging Tests. Imaging tests, such as MRI or CT scans, can assess the brain and nervous system. So they can identify any structural abnormalities or injuries causing hypotonia.
  3. Electromyography (EMG). An EMG test measures the electrical activity of muscles. So it can help identify neuromuscular conditions that can cause hypotonia.
  4. Genetic Testing. Neurologists can use genetic testing to identify genetic causes of low muscle tone, such as:

      5. Neuropsychological Testing. Doctors can use neuropsychological testing to assess many functions:

  • cognitive;
  • speech;
  • behavioral.

It helps identify underlying neurological conditions that can cause hypotonia.

treatment for hypotonia

Treatment for Hypotonia

Doctors carry out a comprehensive approach with the help of:

  • physiotherapy with laser, magnet, or ultrasound;
  • electrophoresis;
  • alternation of heat and cold;
  • mud baths;
  • baths with a tonic effect;
  • massage;
  • therapeutic exercises; 
  • swimming;
  • exercises with a ball.

You should perform your physical therapy exercises under the supervision of a specialist.  Treatment of muscles in children with hypotonia is mandatory. Therapy is based on the results of studies and includes several methods. 

Some can be repeated at home with a doctor’s permission, just like bathing. A bath can replace the swimming pool. You can carry out simple activities to promote a speedy recovery. In the future, babies with low muscle tone:

  • do modeling activities;
  • collect puzzles;
  • play finger games. 

These activities improve motor skills by coordinating and refining movements. At home, you can:

  • pull up the child’s hands;
  • bring them together and apart;
  • do the bicycle exercise for the legs. 

Medication can be used according to the doctor’s prescription and depends on the severity of the pathology. The dosage and duration of the course are determined individually. The doctor can prescribe the following medications for the treatment for hypotonia

  • nootropics; 
  • vitamins; 
  • vascular agents; 
  • neurometabolic drugs. 

During treatment, follow the diet prescribed by the doctor. It includes sufficient micronutrients and vitamins necessary for the body during this period. Adults should also pay attention to therapeutic exercises, electric stimulation to keep tissues from atrophying, and massage.

When You Should See a Doctor

We recommend seeing a doctor if you notice any of the following signs of low muscle tone:

  • Delayed motor development. If your child is not reaching developmental milestones, such as sitting up, crawling, or walking, within the expected timeframe, it can be a sign of hypotonia.
  • Poor muscle tone. If you or your child lacks muscle tone or appears flabby or loose, it can be a sign of hypotonia.
  • Weakness or fatigue. If you or your child has difficulty performing daily activities, such as sitting up, holding objects, or walking, it can be a sign of hypotonia.
  • Speech and language difficulties. If you or your child is experiencing difficulties with speech and language, it can be a sign of low muscle tone.
  • Abnormal reflexes. If you or your child has abnormal reflexes, such as hyperreflexia or hyporeflexia.

A Word from Our Lone Star Neurology Doctors 

After studying the problem of low muscle tone in detail, we understand how important it is to treat it. To do this, we need to choose a good specialist. 

How nice that Lone Star Neurology clinic has the best specialists. They are sure to help you with any neurological issues you have. Do not hesitate to contact us for help!

FAQs 

  • What are the signs of low muscle tone in babies?

A baby’s body sags without trying to act, the belly protrudes forward, the back is rounded, and the head tilts back involuntarily.

  • What is poor muscle tone?

Muscle hypotonia is a condition of reduced muscle tone (the degree of muscle tension or resistance to movement), often combined with reduced muscle strength (paresis).

  • Can you be strong with hypotonia?

Yes, a person with hypotension can be strong, but it depends on many factors. Hypotension means low muscle tone. It can lead to muscle weakness, fatigue, and poor movement coordination. However, if a person with hypotension exercises regularly to strengthen their muscles, they can become strong and improve their muscle tone.

  • Can a child outgrow hypotonia?

Many children with hypotension can overcome symptoms and develop normally or close to normal. Many factors can affect how a child overcomes hypotension. One of the most important factors is early diagnosis and initiation of treatment.

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Edward Medina
Edward Medina
15:34 30 Jun 22
Just such an amazing staff that makes you feel like part of their family. I’ve been going there for over 5 years now... and each visit I get the very best care and treatments that I have ever received in the 20+ years that I’ve been dealing with severe debilitating migraines. Since i started seeing them the number of my migraines has dropped from 15-20 a month to 2-3 every 3 month. I highly recommend them …they will change your life!read more
Daneisha Johnson
Daneisha Johnson
22:20 19 May 22
Dr. Askari was very kind and explained everything so I could understand. The other staff were nice as well. I would... have gave 5 stars but I was a little taken aback when I checked in and had to pay 600.00 upfront. I think that should have been discussed in a appointment confirmation call or email just so I could have been prepared.read more
Jean Cooper
Jean Cooper
16:54 29 Apr 22
I love the office staff they are friendly and very helpful. Dr. JODIE is very caring and understanding to your needs... and wants to help you. I will go back. would recommend Dr. Dr. Jodie to other Patients in a heart beat. The team works well together.read more
Linda M
Linda M
19:40 02 Apr 22
I was obviously stressed, needing to see a neurologist. The staff was so patient and Dr. Ansari was so kind. At one... point he told me to relax, we have time, when I was relaying my history of my condition. That helped ease my stress. I have seen 3 other neurologists and he was the only one who performed any assessment tests on my cognitive and physical skills. At one point I couldn't complete two assessments and got upset and cried. I was told, it's OK. That's why you're here. I was truly impressed, and super pleased with the whole experience!read more
Leslie Durham
Leslie Durham
15:05 01 Apr 22
I've been coming here for about 5 years. The staff are ALWAYS friendly and knowledgeable. The Doctors are the absolute... best!! Jodie Moore is always in such a great mood which is a plus when you are already stressed. Highly recommendedread more
Monica Del Bosque
Monica Del Bosque
14:13 25 Mar 22
Since my first post my thoughts have changed here. It's unfortunate. My doctor and PA were great, but the office staff... is horrible. They never call you back when they say they will, they misinform you, they cause you too much stress wondering what's going on, they don't keep you posted. They never answer the phone. At this point I've left four messages in the last week, and I have sent three messages. Twice from their portal and one direct email. No response. My appointment is on Monday morning at 8:30am, no confirmation on my insurance and what's going on. What the heck is going on, this is ridiculous!I've given up... the stress her office staff has put me through is just not worth it. You can do so much better, please clean house, either change out your office staff, or find a way for them to be more efficient please. You have to do something. This is not how you want to run your practice. It leaves a very bad impression on your business.read more
Ron Buckholz
Ron Buckholz
23:32 23 Mar 22
I was actually pleasantly surprised with this visit! It took me a long time to get the appointment scheduled because no... one answers your phones EVER! After a month, I finally got in, and your staff was warm, friendly, and I was totally impressed! I feel like you will take care of my needs!read more
Steve Nabavi
Steve Nabavi
16:28 16 Mar 22
It was a nice visit. Happy staff doing all they can do to comfort the patients in a very calming environment. You ask... me they are earned a big gold star on the fridge. My only complaint they didn't give me any cookies.read more
Katie Lewis
Katie Lewis
16:10 10 Feb 22
Had very positive appointments with Jodie and Dr. Sheth for my migraine care. Jodie was so fast with the injections and... has so much valuable info. I started to feel light headed during checkout and the staff was SO helpful—giving me a chair, water, and taking me into a private room until I felt better. Highly recommend this practice for migraine patients, they know what they’re doing!!read more
Joshua Martinez
Joshua Martinez
16:02 10 Dec 21
I was scheduled to be checked and just want to say that the staff was fantastic. They were kind and helpful. I was... asked many questions related to what was going on and not once did I feel as though I was being brushed off. The front desk staff was especially great in assisting me. I'm scheduled to go back for a mri and am glad that I'll be going there.read more
Isabel Ivy
Isabel Ivy
21:42 03 Nov 21
I had such a good experience with Lone Star Neurology, Brent my MRI Tech was so awesome and made sure I was very... comfortable during the appointment. He gave me ear plugs, a pillow, leg support and blanket, easiest MRI ever lol 🤣 My 72 hour EEG nurse Amanda was also so awesome. She made sure I was take care of over the 3 days and took her time with the electrodes to make sure it was comfortable for me! Paige was also a huge help in answering all my questions when it came to my test results, and letting me know her honest opinions about how I should go forth with my treatment.read more
Leslie Luce
Leslie Luce
17:37 20 Oct 21
The professionalism and want to help attitude of this office was present from the moment I contacted them. The follow... up and follow through as well as their willingness to find a way to schedule my dad was above and beyond. We visited two offices in the same day with the same experience. I am appreciative of this—we spend a lot of time with doctors and this was top notch start to finish.read more
robert Parker
robert Parker
16:38 16 Apr 21
I love going to this office. The staff is friendly and helpful. The doctor is great. I am getting the best... neurological tests and treatment I have ever had. The only reason I did not give them a 5 star rating is because it is impossible to reach a live person at the office to reschedule appointments. Every time I have tried to get through to the office it says all people are busy and I am sent to a voicemail. If they could get their phone answering fixed, I would give them a strong 5 stars.read more
MaryAnn Hornbaker
MaryAnn Hornbaker
00:26 25 Feb 21
Dr. Harney is an excellent Dr. I found him friendly , personable and thorough. I evidently am an unusual case. ... Therefore he spent a Hugh amount of time educating me. He even gave me literature to further explain my condition and how to follow up. This is something you rarely get from your doctors. So I am more than please with my doctor and his staff.read more
Roger Arguello
Roger Arguello
03:05 29 Jan 21
Always courteous, professional. The staff is very friendly and always work with you to find the best appointment time.... The care team has been great. Always taking the time to listen to your concerns and to find the best treatment.read more
Margaret Rowland
Margaret Rowland
01:12 27 Jan 21
I have been a patient at Lone Star Neurology for several years. Now both my adult daughters also are patients there. I... love Jodie. She is always so prompt whether it is a teleamed call are a visit in the office. She takes the time to explain everything to me and answers all my questions. I am so blessed to have Jodie as my doctor.read more
Susan Miller
Susan Miller
03:01 13 Jan 21
My husband had an accident 5 years ago and Lone Star Neurology has been such a blessing to us with my husbands care.... Jodie Moore is his provider and she is amazing! Jodie is very knowledgeable, caring, and thorough. She takes her time with you, making sure your needs are met and she is happy to answer any questions you may have. Lone Star Neurology’s patients are very lucky to have Jodie providing their care. Thank you Lone Star Neurology and especially Jodie for everything you have done for us. Jodie, you are the best!read more
Windalyn C
Windalyn C
01:32 09 Jan 21
Jodie is wonderful. She is very caring and knowledgeable. I have been to over a dozen neurologists, and none were able... to help me as much as they have here. Thanks!read more
Katie Kordel
Katie Kordel
00:40 09 Jan 21
Jodi Moore, nurse practitioner, is amazing. I have suffered from frequent, debilitating headaches for almost 20 years.... She has provided the best proactive and responsive care I have ever received. My quality of life has been greatly improved by her caring approach and tenacity in finding solutions.read more
Ellie Natsis
Ellie Natsis
15:41 07 Jan 21
I have had the best experience at this neurologist's office! For over a year I have been receiving iv treatments here... each month and my nurse, Bobbie is beyond wonderful!! She's so attentive, knowledgeable, caring, and detail oriented. She makes an otherwise uncomfortable experience much more pleasant and definitely puts me at ease! She also helps me with my insurance,ordering this specialty medication and dealing with the ordering process which is no easy feat.Needless to say, she goes above a beyond in every way and I'm so grateful to this office and to Bobbie for all they do for me!read more
Matt Morris
Matt Morris
15:39 07 Jan 21
Let me start by saying that I have been coming here for years. Due to my autoimmune disease, I am in this office... once every three weeks for multiple hours at a time. The office is very clean and the staff very friendly. My only complaint would be there communication via phone. They aren't the best at responding if you leave a voicemail and expect a call back. I understand that this is prob just due to the sheer number of alls they receive daily. What I can say I like the best about the office are the people. Bobby who handles my infusions is great. I never have any issues with her setting up my infusions. She is very quick to reply to messages sent via text and if she were to leave then my whole opinion of the office may change. I also enjoy people like Matt, Lauren, and Jodi. I appreciate all that they do for me and without this team I'm not sure I would be as happy as I am to visit the office as frequently as I have to. Please ensure that these folks are recognized as they are what makes my visit to this office so tolerable :).read more
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