What is Polymyositis?

Posted on 01/31/2016

What is Polymyositis?

People normally associate rheumatic diseases with the joints. However, many rheumatic conditions, such as polymyositis, actually affect muscles rather than joints. 

Polymyositis is a rare condition that causes chronic inflammation and weakness in various muscle groups. Polymyositis is one of three common inflammatory myopathies, with the others being Dermatomyositis and Inclusion Body Myositis. 

Polymyositis does not have an exact known cause but it is an autoimmune disease, meaning the body's immune system is attacking itself. The disease is more common in African-Americans and is more common in women than men. It can affect any age group but it is most common in adults age 35-60. Symptoms usually develop gradually over time.

Polymyositis causes muscle weakness in core muscle groups in the torso, legs, neck and shoulders. This can make routine tasks such as climbing stairs, lifting objects and even rising out of a chair painful or difficult. Some patients may experience a mild degree of muscle pain, as well.  Polymyositis may have other symptoms, in addition to the muscle symptoms. It does not cause heart disease, but the heart muscles can be affected, causing complications. Depending on the muscle groups affected by polymyositis, patients can experience different problems. For example, weakness to the throat and esophagus muscles can lead to trouble swallowing and chest muscle weakness can cause breathing problems. 

Auto-immune conditions such as polymyositis are difficult to diagnose. If your rheumatologist suspects you may have an auto-immune muscle disorder, blood tests or a muscle biopsy may be in order. 

There isn't a known cure for polymyositis, but it is possible to manage symptoms and improve muscle strength. Medication management is used to control the immune attack of the muscles and to combat pain and fatigue. Physical therapy and exercise are often needed to restore muscle strength.

If you have lasting muscle weakness or muscle fatigue, contact Rheumatology Associates P.C, in Indianapolis. At Rheumatology Associates, we are here to help you get the appropriate diagnosis and treatment so you can get your life back!

For more information call 317.844.6444