Table of Contents
Definition of Polymyositis
Polymyositis is a chronic condition of widespread inflammation of the muscles. The inflammation causes weakness and difficulty with everyday movements including walking, reaching for objects, bathing, and dressing.
Polymyositis is a type of inflammatory myopathy that many researchers believe is autoimmune in its origins.
Other researchers believe polymyositis and other inflammatory myopathies develop after viral infection or as side effects of cholesterol-lowering therapy with statin medications. Polymyositis has alternating periods of recurrence and remission that tend to be lifelong.
Most people are age 50 or older when they develop the condition.
Symptoms and Diagnostic Path
The severity and range of symptoms vary among individuals as well as across episodes within the same person. Symptoms of polymyositis may include
- Muscle weakness throughout the body though most pronounced in the shoulders, upper arms, hips, and thighs
- Both sides of the body equally affected
- Joint pain
- Difficulty swallowing
The diagnostic path includes blood tests to detect antibodies and elevated enzymes that indicate muscle injury within the body. Muscle biopsy may show the inflammation within the sample of muscle tissue.
Sometimes magnetic resonance imaging (mri) presents a pattern of the inflammation’s presence in the body. Because there are no conclusive diagnostic tests for polymyositis, the diagnostic journey can be arduous and frustrating.
Treatment Options and Outlook
Physical therapy for passive and active range of motion exercises helps maintain optimal joint function. Daily physical activity has similar effect.
Polymyositis is a lifelong condition that, when symptoms are severe, can result in permanent disability.
Risk Factors and Preventive Measures
Because researchers do not know what causes polymyositis, there are no known measures to prevent its development. Early diagnosis and treatment offer the most effective approach for minimizing the course of the disease and reducing the seriousness of its symptoms.
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