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What Is Polymyositis?

Polymyositis is a medical condition that leads to multiple inflammations of the muscles. It usually affects both sides of the body causing muscle weakness. Polymyositis primarily affects adults in their 30s, 40s, and 50s. However, in rare cases, it can affect children below 18 years. In addition, women are at a greater risk of developing polymyositis than men.

Polymyositis symptoms develop gradually over weeks or months depending on the severity of the inflammation and the medical health of the patient. Patients with prolonged polymyositis may experience difficulty climbing stairs, lifting heavy objects, etc. Get in touch with your healthcare provider in case you are experiencing difficulty carrying out your daily tasks due to extreme pain.

What Are the Symptoms of Polymyositis?

Polymyositis can be present along with other diseases such as dermatomyositis which are sometimes associated with certain cancers. Polymyositis symptoms usually include the following:

  • Difficulty getting up from chairs, climbing stairs, or lifting objects.
  • Difficulty while swallowing
  • Muscle weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Muscle pain along with tenderness
  • Patchy red or violet rash around the eyes, knuckles, elbows, knees, neck and upper chest.
  • High Fever
  • Weight loss

What Causes Polymyositis?

The exact cause of polymyositis is still under debate. The researchers indicate the primary cause of polymyositis as a defect in the immune system which attacks the muscles. In addition, there are several risk factors that can increase the risk of polymyositis:

  • Lupus
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Scleroderma
  • Sjogren’s syndrome

How Is Polymyositis Diagnosis?

The doctor conducts a physical examination and examines your medical history and family history report. Polymyositis diagnosis is usually done to exclude the possibility of medical conditions which are symptomatically similar to Polymyositis. Here are some tests recommended for the polymyositis diagnosis:

  • Blood tests
  • Electromyography
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Muscle biopsy

What Are the Treatment Methods for Polymyositis?

Polymyositis treatment aims at improving muscle strength and function. The doctor recommends a timely treatment for effective results which can lead to fewer complications. Depending on the medical health of the patient and the doctor suggests a combination of medicines and therapies for effective results. Polymyositis treatment includes the following:

  • Medications: Certain medicines are effective in treating moderate symptoms of polymyositis. These medicines can help decrease inflammation and adequately improve polymyositis symptoms.
    • Corticosteroids
    • Corticosteroid-sparing agents
    • Rituximab (Rituxan)
  • Therapies: The doctor may suggest certain therapies for mild to moderate symptoms. Several exercises can help the patients maintain or improve muscle strength. These therapies can also help manage polymyositis pain and carry out daily activities.
    • Physical therapy
    • Speech therapy
    • Dietetic assessment
  • Surgical Procedures: In case of severe symptoms, the doctor recommends intravenous infusion of immunoglobulins (IVIG) to reduce polymyositis pain. IVIg is a purified blood product that contains healthy antibodies. The antibodies are infused through the vein which blocks the damaging antibodies that attack the muscles.


What cancers are associated with polymyositis?

A combination of polymyositis and dermatomyositis can cause an increased risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, lung cancer, and bladder cancer. Depending on the medical condition of the patient and the severity of the condition, polymyositis can also cause breast, ovarian, and colon cancer in women.

Can COVID-19 cause polymyositis symptoms?

There is no direct relation between COVID-19 with polymyositis. However, some cases of inflammatory polymyositis have been reported in association with SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 vaccination. Discuss your medical condition with the doctor to avoid further complications and risks.

What are the complications of polymyositis?

If left untreated, polymyositis can cause extreme pain, discomfort, and several complications. Possible complications of polymyositis include:

  • Limitations while performing daily activities
  • Respiratory failure (if the muscles in the chest are affected)
  • Malnutrition & weight loss
  • Severe disability

Can I prevent polymyositis?

Since polymyositis is an autoimmune disease, there is no known way to prevent it. However, there are several risk factors that can be managed through medications, lifestyle changes, and dietary restrictions.

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