Pronounced: Polly-my-oh-sigh-tisEn Español (Spanish Version)
Polymyositis is a progressive disease of the muscles. It usually affects the muscles closest to the trunk of the body (called proximal muscles), but it may affect muscles anywhere in the body. These muscles become inflamed or swollen and cause discomfort. The disease starts slowly, and if untreated, gradually the muscles become weaker and weaker and pain in the muscles increases.
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This rare disease is believed to be an autoimmune disorder. Your immune system is your body’s defense system. It fights diseases and infections. An autoimmune disease is a condition in which your body's immune system mistakenly attacks your own body. With polymyositis, your immune system attacks your own healthy muscle tissue.
The sooner the disease is treated, the more favorable the outcome. If you suspect you have this condition, contact your doctor.
The cause of polymyositis is unknown. Factors that may contribute to polymyositis include:
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition.
The following factors increase your chance of developing polymyositis:
If you experience any of these symptoms, do not assume it is due to polymyositis. These symptoms are quite common and may be caused by other, less serious, health conditions. If you experience any one of them, see your physician.
Polymyositis is not easy to diagnose because the symptoms vary from person-to-person. It is often a matter of ruling out other diseases and conditions to arrive at the diagnosis. Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam.
Tests may include the following:
There is no cure for polymyositis, but treatment can improve your muscle strength and function. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following:
Last reviewed January 2008 by Robert Leach, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.