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Up to 88% of fatty liver patients that develop cirrhosis have dystonia

Liver disease: NHS Doctor talks about link with alcohol

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Though only a small percentage of the British population has cirrhosis, many suffer from some degree of fatty liver. When fat cells build up, normal liver cells are gradually replaced with scar tissue. This interferes with the organ’s important functions, spurring a host of complications in organ organs and limbs.

In 2017, BMC Medicine explained that portal hypertension is a “major drive in the transition from the compensated to the decompensated stage of cirrhosis”.

In compensated cirrhosis, the liver is still able to cope with the damage and maintain its important functions.

In the decompensated stages of cirrhosis, however, the liver is not able to perform all its functions adequately, explains the British Liver Trust.

Portal hypertension is responsible for the vast majority of complications associated with liver disease at this stage.

According to BMC Medicine, bleeding from the gastro-oesophageal varices, spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, and hepatorenal syndrome, are a few of many issues associated with portal hypertension.

“Further decompensating episodes are often triggered by bacterial infections and are associated with a very high mortality risk,” states the medical journal.

The compensated and decompensated stages of cirrhosis are so different in their characteristics that they’re commonly considered to be two separate diseases.

As one stage progresses to the net, pressure inside the major vein leading to the liver increases.

This can manifest in one of many ways, sometimes causing bleeding in various parts of the body, which may show up in vomit or stool.

Patients often report mental confusion and disorientation or swelling around the legs and feet.

Another key issue that can strike the lower limbs is muscle spasms, which affects up to 88 percent of patients with cirrhosis.

The Journal of Medicine in 2021, reported on the frequency and aetiology of muscle spasms in cirrhosis.

The authors of the report said: “Painful spasms of the lower-limb muscles are experienced by 20 to 88 percent of patients with liver cirrhosis. They also reduce quality of life.

“The severity of liver cirrhosis and ascites is related to the onset of muscle cramps. However, the effect of liver damage on muscle cramps remains unclear.”

Muscle spasms – also known as dystonia – describes “uncontrolled and sometimes painful muscle movements”, according to the NHS.

The main cause for muscle spasms in cirrhosis is a change in the way amino acids and proteins are regulated.

Sometimes, patients entering the advanced phases of cirrhosis also show signs of muscle wasting – or loss of muscle mass.

This symptom is found in approximately 40 percent of fatty liver patients, and its prevalence increases along with disease severity.

Though muscle spasms are more common, they often reflect minor underlying health issues.

“If the muscle spasm is severe, happens frequently, responds poorly to treatment and is not related to obvious causes, make an appointment with your health care provider,” advises the Cleveland Clinic.

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