Denervated Muscles vs. Innervated Muscles

What's the Difference?

Denervated muscles refer to muscles that have lost their nerve supply, either due to injury or disease. As a result, these muscles become weak, atrophied, and lose their ability to contract. On the other hand, innervated muscles are muscles that are supplied by nerves, allowing them to receive signals from the brain and spinal cord. Innervated muscles are able to contract and generate force, enabling movement and maintaining muscle tone. Unlike denervated muscles, innervated muscles are capable of responding to stimuli and adapting to changes in the body's needs.


AttributeDenervated MusclesInnervated Muscles
DefinitionMuscles that have lost their nerve supplyMuscles that are supplied by nerves
FunctionUnable to contract or move voluntarilyAble to contract and move voluntarily
SensationNo sensation or feelingCan feel sensations such as touch, pressure, and pain
StrengthSignificantly weakened or lostCan maintain normal strength
ToneReduced or absent muscle toneNormal muscle tone
AppearanceAtrophy and muscle wasting may occurNormal muscle appearance
ReflexesAbsent or diminished reflexesNormal reflexes

Further Detail


Muscles play a crucial role in the movement and functioning of the human body. They are responsible for generating force and enabling various activities. Muscles can be broadly classified into two categories: denervated muscles and innervated muscles. Denervated muscles refer to muscles that have lost their nerve supply, while innervated muscles are those that are still connected to the nervous system. In this article, we will explore the attributes of both denervated and innervated muscles, highlighting their differences and the impact on their functionality.

Denervated Muscles

Denervation occurs when the nerve supply to a muscle is disrupted or severed. This can happen due to various reasons, such as nerve injury, disease, or surgical procedures. Denervated muscles undergo several changes that affect their structure and function.

One of the primary characteristics of denervated muscles is muscle atrophy. Without nerve stimulation, the muscle fibers gradually decrease in size and lose their strength. This leads to a significant reduction in muscle mass and overall muscle function.

In addition to muscle atrophy, denervated muscles also experience a loss of contractility. The ability to generate force and contract efficiently is compromised in the absence of nerve signals. As a result, denervated muscles become weak and are unable to perform their intended functions effectively.

Denervation also affects the metabolic properties of muscles. Denervated muscles exhibit a shift in their metabolic profile, with a decrease in oxidative metabolism and an increase in glycolytic metabolism. This alteration in energy production can further contribute to muscle weakness and fatigue.

Furthermore, denervated muscles may develop fibrosis, which is the excessive formation of connective tissue. Fibrosis can lead to the stiffening of muscles, limiting their flexibility and range of motion. It can also impair the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to the muscle fibers, exacerbating the muscle's degeneration.

Innervated Muscles

Innervated muscles, on the other hand, maintain their connection to the nervous system, allowing for proper functioning and control. The nerve supply to innervated muscles ensures the transmission of signals that initiate muscle contraction and coordination.

One of the key attributes of innervated muscles is their ability to generate force and contract actively. Nerve impulses from the central nervous system stimulate the muscle fibers, leading to the recruitment of motor units and the generation of force. This enables the muscles to perform various movements and tasks efficiently.

Innervated muscles also exhibit a well-maintained muscle mass and strength. The continuous nerve stimulation prevents muscle atrophy and promotes muscle growth and maintenance. Regular use and exercise of innervated muscles contribute to their overall health and functionality.

Moreover, innervated muscles possess a high degree of flexibility and adaptability. The nervous system allows for precise control and coordination of muscle movements, enabling fine motor skills and complex actions. This coordination is crucial for activities such as writing, playing musical instruments, and performing intricate physical tasks.

Additionally, innervated muscles maintain a balanced metabolic profile. The nerve supply ensures an appropriate balance between oxidative and glycolytic metabolism, providing the necessary energy for muscle contraction and endurance. This metabolic equilibrium contributes to the overall efficiency and endurance of innervated muscles.


In summary, denervated muscles and innervated muscles differ significantly in their attributes and functionality. Denervated muscles experience muscle atrophy, loss of contractility, metabolic changes, and fibrosis, leading to weakness and impaired function. On the other hand, innervated muscles maintain their muscle mass, strength, flexibility, and metabolic balance, allowing for active contraction and precise control. Understanding these differences is crucial in various medical fields, including neurology, rehabilitation, and sports medicine, as it helps in developing appropriate treatment strategies and interventions for individuals with denervated muscles.

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