What are muscle tone disorders?

Children with muscle tone disorders usually have either high or low muscle tone. Hypotonia, which means low muscle tone, causes increased flexibility and looseness of the muscles while hypertonia, which means high or too much muscle tone, causes rigidity, spasticity and inflexibility of the muscles. All muscle tone disorders affect muscle strength, motor nerves and the brain. A child with a muscle tone disorder may have feeding issues, drooling, breathing, speech, apraxia, oral motor issues, hypermobile or hyperflexible joints, rigidity and inflexibility, rounded shoulders and poor posture, fine and gross motor difficulties, lack of appropriate body awareness, poor head control (infant), weakened muscle tone, poor reflexes, and decrease in stamina and endurance. The muscle tone disorders affecting the brain, nervous system and muscles are Cerebral Palsy, Muscular Dystrophy and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI); while muscle tone disorders caused by genetic conditions are Prader-Willi Syndrome, Tay-Sach’s Disease and Down’s syndrome. Although autism and autism spectrum disorders are not diagnosed as muscle tone disorders per se, autism spectrum children have hypotonia, low muscle tone in the upper part of the body, and demonstrate difficulties with body language, coordination, motor planning, poor motor skills, and speech and oral motor issues.


What your doctor will tell you about muscle tone disorders?

Your child’s doctor or specialist will tell you that there is no cure for muscle tone disorders, but with various treatment protocols it is possible to improve the muscle tone to maximize physical function, increase independence and improve your child’s general quality of life. Treatment protocols may also slow down the progression of other symptoms associated with muscle tone disorders such as muscle contractures, joint deformities and loss of function. Your child’s doctor may suggest medications to help improve muscle function, stop seizures and reduce pain; however in certain cases surgery may be advised as an alternative option. The doctor may also let you know that early intervention therapies are going to help your child maximize the most benefits to assure the best long term outcomes. He or she also will probably suggest any of the following therapeutic treatment options: Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech and Language Therapy, Aquatic Therapy, Rehabilitation, Braces/Orthoses, Customized seating, Mobility Training and Equipment, Assistive Technology Devices, Augmentative Communication Devices and medication.


Another way to think about muscle tone disorders:

The microbiome is the newly discovered organ in our gastrointestinal system that is home to trillions of bacteria (microflora). The human gut “microbiota” is the name given to the colonies of microbes that live in our digestive system. These gut microbes are essential for communication with the brain and the immune system. This connection between the gut and the brain is called the Gut/Brain Axis. The body makes muscle tone because we eat protein and in a healthy gastrointestinal tract, the protein gets broken down into amino acids. These amino acids are vitally important because they feed the neurotransmitters in our brain which sends messages to the brain cells to tell the body what to do; and in this case, to create muscle tone. If the microbiome is altered due to inflammation, not enough oxygen in the cells, and bad bacteria; then the normal digestive process is disrupted. When this happens, not enough stomach acid is created to break down proteins, so amino acids are not feeding the neurotransmitters. Without the amino acids, communication with the brain is limited and the neurotransmitters misfire, sending inappropriate messages. Therefore, in order to have healthy brain functioning and a healthy body creating good muscle tone, a healthy microbiome is crucial.

Muscle contraction, on the other hand, requires ATP, known as adenosine triphosphate. How is ATP created in our cells? The Kreb Cycle, found inside the mitochondria, is responsible for converting our food – carbohydrates, protein and fats – into energy. The mitochondria are found inside our cells and have the primary job of converting this energy from the Kreb Cycle and storing it in the ATP. The ATP needs a constant supply of energy from the Kreb Cycle to create muscle contraction. The Kreb Cycle requires oxygen, Co Enzyme A (CoA), Co Enzyme 1 (NADH), Co Enzyme Q 10 (CoQ10) and B vitamins to supply energy to the body to create muscle contraction and many other processes. So if the Kreb Cycle is not working appropriately because it lacks oxygen and/or the nutrients it needs to make it function, then there is going to be a breakdown in creating muscle contraction properly.

The good news is the microbiome and gastrointestinal tract can be healed so that muscle tone can be improved. The Kreb Cycle can also be improved by giving the right nutrients to increase the production of energy to regulate muscle contraction. There are also many important nutritional supplements for improving muscle tone and increasing protein and protein absorption in the body. In addition, today there are many effective therapies for muscle tone disorders that can make a significant difference in a child’s life. For example, Hyperbaric Oxygen in a hard chamber provides oxygen under pressure improves muscle tone, increases oxygen to the brain and revives the idling neurons to make significant improvement in muscle tone disorders. Pediasuit is another effective approach to treating muscle tone disorders. The pediasuit accelerates the development of new motor skills and eventually over time strengthens muscle. The goal is to have the child learn how to sit, stand and walk. http://www.pediasuit.com/ . To find out about more exciting holistic and alternative approaches available to improve muscle tone disorders [See below]:


Muscle tone disorders checklist to start:

  • Make dietary changes. Eat whole foods; buy organic. Remove all GMO, fast and processed foods and those with colors, artificial ingredients, preservatives, phenols, salicylates and inflammatory foods such as casein, gluten, soy. Strictly limit sugars, salt, and white refined carbohydrates. Join the Feingold Association www.Feingold.org to learn more.
  • Include plenty of good quality fats, such as coconut and olive oil, avocados, wild salmon, organic chicken and turkey, ghee, eggs, etc. including essential fatty acids.
  • Heal the gut with GAPS, PALEO, or (GF/CF) Gluten Free/Casein Free, Body Ecology Diet, Modified Atkins Diet (replaces the Ketogenic Diet) are all possible diets depending on the needs of the child. Make Bone Broth! Beet juice improves muscle strength.
  • Clean up your environment. Remove animals (both live and stuffed!), carpets. Use non-toxic cleaners, building materials. Green your home!
  • Ask your pediatrician to run some laboratory tests that give information about possible food sensitivities and allergies, Test for Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) IgG,IgA,IgE and IgM. Other testing could show deficiencies in vitamins and minerals, bacterial overgrowth and gluten and casein sensitivities.
  • Add fermented foods and probiotics daily to keep the gastrointestinal system and microbiome healthy and strong which in turn will keep the immune system strong. Eat keifer yogurts and fermented vegetables, umeboshi plums (very alkalizing) and miso soup. Some good probiotics are VSL#3, Gut Pro, Dr. Ohirra’s Live Cultured Probiotics, Garden of Life, and Culturelle.
  • Use natural supplements and herbs to improve muscle tone: D-Ribose, creatine, CoEnzyme A by CoEnzyme A Technologies, CoEnzyme 1 (NADH), Vitamin E, CoQ10, L-Carnitine, Acetyl-L-Carnitine, free amino acid complex, L-glutamine, branched- chain amino acids (BCAA), Dimethylglycine (DMG), Vitamin B complex, Omega 3 fats, Alfalfa, Ashwagandha, Dong Quai, Raspberry tea,
  • Have protein shakes: whey protein if the child is not allergic to casein or dairy; otherwise vegan, pea or egg protein shakes. Arthred is a predigested protein by Nutricology which is more absorbable and helps increase protein for better muscle tone quality. Can be added to the protein shake.
  • Digestive Enzymes such as betaine hydrochloric acid, Vitalzyme Complete with DPPIV for gluten and casein intolerances, proteolytic enzyme to help digest protein, BiCarb, bromelain and papaya.
  • Take Vitamin D3, Vitamin C and sulphur – N’acetylcysteine (NAC) (sulphur) helps with detoxification process and healing of the G.I. tract, MSM transdermal cream and Epsom Salt Bath.
  • Do the PediaSuit Protocol to improve a child’s motor and cognitive functioning.
  • Do Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (hard chambers) to improve muscle tone, keep muscles from rigidity after physical therapy, and increase oxygen to the brain and tissue in the body.
  • See a Physical Therapist (PT), Occupational Therapist trained in Sensory Integration, speech pathologist (see GemIIni for home program)
  • See a well-trained acupuncturist to help strengthen muscle tone and improve organ functioning.  
  • Do Adaptive Yoga for children with special needs uses breathing practices and body postures to strengthen muscles, improve balance and increase body awareness.
  • See a Chiropractor to improve body balance and muscle coordination and increase energy.
  • See a CranioSacral practitioner for MyoFacial Release and oral motor work.
  • Do Biofeedback can strengthen muscles and muscle tone, improve spasticity and reduce muscle contraction.

If you’ve addressed these issues and are still dealing muscle tone disorders:

  • Test OAT (Organic Acid Test) by Great Plains Laboratory for yeast overgrowth and Candida, oxalates, and other microbial infections
  • NutrEval by Genova Diagnostics Labs covers the following areas: malabsorption & dysbiosis; cellular energy & mitochondrial metabolism; neurotransmitter metabolism; vitamin deficiencies; and toxin exposure & detoxification need.
  • Comprehensive Stool Analysis by Genova Diagnostic Labs to identify malabsorption, maldigestion, altered G.I. Function, bacterial/fungal overgrowth and chronic dysbiosis.
  • Neurosciences Laboratories www.neurorelief.com comprehensive testing on neurotransmitters.
  • Homeopathic or Naturopathic physicians can diagnose and treat muscle tone disorders naturally so that the child’s immune, sensory, neurological and nervous systems develop without being compromised.

Still looking for answers? 

Visit the Epidemic Answers Provider Directory to find a practitioner near you.