Polymyositis: Overview, Risks, and Treatments

If you have weakness in your shoulders, neck, and thighs, you could have the early signs of polymyositis. Everyone gets tired muscles now and then. It's a common feeling when you do a lot of physical activity. However, with polymyositis, you have muscle problems frequently with no known causes. Fortunately, this condition is treatable, especially if your doctor catches it early. Keep reading to learn more about polymyositis, its symptoms, and therapies that can help you keep your quality of life.

Polymyositis Overview

Polymyositis is a type of myopathy, also known as muscle disease. While polymyositis' causes are not known, it shows similarities to autoimmune conditions. Autoimmune diseases are when your immune system attacks your tissues. Polymyositis generally affects muscles closer to the trunk of the body, but not the hands and feet. The affected muscles chronically become inflamed and weaken over time.

Polymyositis Symptoms

People with polymyositis may show minimal symptoms at first, but the problems get worse over time. Most people notice worsening symptoms over several months. Some of the first polymyositis signs include difficulty getting up from a sitting position or lifting things you normally can lift. You may also have trouble lifting your arms over your head. The symptoms may not be anything dramatic or sudden, but you will notice that you can't do what you used to be able to do. You may or may not have pain.

Polymyositis Risks

Polymyositis tends to affect middle-aged people but can also affect younger adults as well as seniors. Children rarely get this condition. You are also at higher risk if you already have an autoimmune disease diagnosis. People with lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren's syndrome, and scleroderma are all at higher risk.

Polymyositis Treatment

The key to getting the best results is early treatment. Chronic inflammation can break down muscles over time. Treatment involves the use of medications and physical therapy. The goal is to reduce inflammation and improve muscle strength. Your doctor or rheumatologist may prescribe corticosteroids. You may also need immunosuppressant drugs in addition to or instead of corticosteroids. Physical therapy will help you retain and build muscle and reduce pain and inflammation as well.

Unfortunately, no cure currently exists for polymyositis. However, treatment can help you regain muscle function. Most people do not suffer any life-threatening effects as long as they get treatment and therapy. However, your condition could get worse if you don't get treatment. You could also have trouble with respiratory and digestive functions down the road. Therefore, if you have unexplained muscle weakness and are at risk for polymyositis, see a rheumatologist right away.