Polymyositis is a disease that causes the body’s muscles to become irritated and inflamed. It can affect the muscles all over the body. The muscles gradually begin to break down and weaken, making everyday movements difficult. This disease falls into a category known as inflammatory myopathies.
The causes of polymyositis are currently unknown. However, experts believe it could be associated with or triggered by a virus or an autoimmune reaction. An autoimmune response is when the body attacks itself along with the body’s tissues. It’s seen in individuals ages 31 to 60 and is rarely seen in individuals younger than 18. In some instances, medication can lead to an allergic reaction/response that causes muscle irritation and damage. But in most cases, healthcare experts are not able to find the exact cause.
The condition can affect the muscles all over the body. Physical activities like walking, getting up from a chair, or lifting objects can become difficult to perform. It can also affect the muscles that allow for eating and breathing. The muscles at the center of the body tend to be affected the most. Common symptoms include:
Diagnosis begins with the individual’s medical history, family medical history if necessary, and a physical examination. The examination includes seeing and feeling the strength of the muscles. Tests will be required that include:
Treatment depends on how severe the condition is, individual symptoms, age, and overall health. Currently, there is no cure for polymyositis, but symptoms can be managed. Individuals are recommended to utilize more than one type of treatment because the treatment plan may also need to be changed as treatment progresses. Treatments include:
Steroid medication can help manage the disease and reduce symptoms, and corticosteroids can help ease inflammation in the body. The symptoms improve within 4 to 6 weeks, and a healthcare provider can lower the dosage after the symptoms decrease to reduce and ease any side effects.
Polymyositis left untreated can lead to severe complications. The muscles become weaker, increasing the risk of falling and limiting daily activities.
Corrado, Bruno et al. “Supervised Physical Therapy and Polymyositis/Dermatomyositis-A Systematic Review of the Literature.” Neurology international vol. 12,3 77-88. 24 Nov. 2020, doi:10.3390/neurolint12030015
Findlay, Andrew R et al. “An overview of polymyositis and dermatomyositis.” Muscle & nerve vol. 51,5 (2015): 638-56. doi:10.1002/mus.24566
Sasaki, Hirokazu, and Hitoshi Kohsaka. “Current diagnosis and treatment of polymyositis and dermatomyositis.” Modern rheumatology vol. 28,6 (2018): 913-921. doi:10.1080/14397595.2018.1467257
Van Thillo, Anna et al. “Physical therapy in adult inflammatory myopathy patients: a systematic review.” Clinical rheumatology vol. 38,8 (2019): 2039-2051. doi:10.1007/s10067-019-04571-9
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