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Things You Must Know About Myopathy

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Things You Must Know About Myopathy

Orthopaedics & Joint Replacement | Posted on 12/06/2022 by Dr. Aashish K. Sharma



What is Myopathy?

Myopathy is a medical term used to describe musculoskeletal disorders and abnormalities which can lead to various patterns of weakness and muscular dysfunction. Patients with chronic myopathy suffer from muscle damage and improper development.   

Depending on the type, myopathy can affect all age groups and gender. The condition is more common affecting 25-79% of adults with hypothyroidism. Myopathy symptoms usually worsen over time if left untreated and patients can experience difficulty performing everyday tasks. There are different categories of myopathy that can have a specific set of diagnoses and treatments.    

What are The Different Types of Myopathy?

Myopathy is classified based on how it occurs. Inherited myopathy is a condition that you are born with and inherit due to gene mutation. In this type of myopathy, symptoms usually begin from early childhood and affect all muscles. On the other hand, acquired myopathy symptoms develop later in life due to different factors. The two broad categories of myopathy include - 

  • Inherited Myopathy
  1. Congenital Myopathy
  2. Mitochondrial Myopathy
  3. Metabolic Myopathy
  4. Muscular Dystrophies
  • Acquired Myopathy
  1. Autoimmune Myopathy
  2. Toxic Myopathy
  3. Endocrine Myopathy
  4. Infectious Myopathy
  5. Electrolyte Imbalance
  6. Critical Illness Myopathy

What Causes Myopathy?

Myopathy can affect any individual regardless of age and gender. The exact cause of the condition differs based on the type of myopathy. However, researchers often associate disruption of the structural integrity and metabolic processes of the muscle cells. This can be a result of 

  • Genetic modifications
  • Toxins
  • Inflammation
  • Chronic infection
  • Hormonal and electrolyte imbalances

Apart from that, there are several risk factors that contribute to the progression of myopathy - 

  • Family history
  • Being designated male at birth
  • Autoimmune disorder
  • Metabolic disorder
  • Endocrine disorder

What are the Symptoms of Myopathy?

Symptoms of myopathy differ based on the type and severity of the condition. Patients with myopathy often experience symmetric weakness on both sides of the body. Common myopathy symptoms include pain that arises in the proximal muscles like shoulders, upper arms, hips, and thighs. Eventually, the pain increases so much that it can become difficult to carry out daily tasks such as getting dressed, climbing stairs, getting out of a chair, bathing, etc. 

Other symptoms may vary depending on the type of myopathy and the medical health of the patient. Any existing medical condition can add to the weakness and discomfort due to myopathy. Here are some common symptoms of myopathy -

  • Muscle weakness which can be either progressive or non-progressive
  • Difficulty walking, hopping, and climbing stairs in children
  • Muscle stiffness, cramps, and spasms
  • Lack of energy 
  • Fatigue

How is Myopathy Diagnosed?

The doctor will first gather information such as medical reports and family history to check for any existing medical conditions. Depending on the type and severity of myopathy, the doctor may recommend certain tests that can indicate the defect in the musculoskeletal system. 

The tests are done to examine the patient’s muscle strength, balance, sensation, reflexes, or skin. If you are experiencing certain disorders related to your skeletal muscles, the orthopaedics doctor may recommend the following tests for myopathy diagnosis -

  • Electromyography (EMG)
  • MRI
  • Genetic Tests
  • Muscle Biopsy
  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Electrolyte level test
  • Antinuclear antibody test (ANA)
  • Thyroid tests

What is the Treatment of Myopathy?

Once the doctor determines the type of myopathy and how severe it is, there are different treatment methods that can vary from one patient to another. Myopathy treatment aims to reduce the discomfort due to muscle stiffness or crampings for increased movement. 

Treatment for myopathy includes medications, therapies, and surgeries. For patients with autoimmune-related myopathies, the treatment involves immunosuppressant drugs and corticosteroids. Genetic myopathies do not have a specific treatment or cure and the symptoms occur due to heredity. For such patients, doctors generally advise different therapies to manage the symptoms and improve the quality of life. 

In the case of myopathies due to a medical condition, there are certain lifestyle changes that can reduce the infection or other risk factors that can further progress the condition. In addition, the doctor may also recommend endocrine and toxic myopathy treatment which is effective in tackling medical conditions causing myopathy.

FAQs

How serious is myopathy?

Myopathy can be congenital or acquired. Depending on the type of myopathy, the prognosis can vary depending on the individual’s medical condition and how severe the condition is. Some individuals may not experience any symptoms but it can get really severe if left untreated.  

Is exercise good for myopathy?

Yes, a certain amount of physical activity such as walking, yoga, exercise, gymming, etc. improves muscle strength and maintains agility. Patients with myopathy are often advised to encourage minimal exercise during the day to avoid stagnation of the muscles.

Is myopathy a neurological disorder?

No, myopathy is a musculoskeletal disorder. In case you are experiencing early signs of myopathy, consult an orthopedic specialist for timely treatment.  

What muscles are affected by myopathy?

Myopathy affects skeletal muscles causing symmetric pain on both sides of your body, especially in proximal muscles. Patients with myopathy often experience muscle weakness in muscles that are close to the center of the body such as shoulders, upper arms, hips and thighs. 

Does myopathy affect the heart?

Myopathy usually affects skeletal muscles which can restrict the movement of the individual. If the condition persists, prolonged inactivity can increase the risk of certain cardiovascular diseases which can eventually affect the functioning of the heart.