Polymyositis refers to a condition characterized by inflammation and weakness of the skeletal muscles of the body, especially those near the trunk. The common sites include neck, shoulders, upper arms, hips, and thighs.
It is usually affects adults between 30 and 50 years of age, and is twice more common in females. It is also observed in children of 5-15 years of age. The precise etiology behind such an inflammation is unclear as yet, but the condition has been associated with certain hereditary factors, autoimmune disorders, and infection.
The symptoms of this condition manifest gradually, and hence it is difficult to determine the stage when the symptoms begin. The characteristic symptom of this condition is gradual muscle pain and weakness. Initially, the weakness may not be prominent, however, with time, the affected person may be unable to perform routine tasks like climbing stairs, carrying objects, etc. This may be accompanied with fatigue, tenderness in the muscles and joints, trouble swallowing food, difficulty while speaking, altered gait, and shortness of breath.
The diagnostic process for polymyositis involves imaging techniques like electromyography, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), etc., to analyze the muscle structure. In addition, biopsy of the muscle tissue may be performed for pathological analysis. Blood tests to determine the levels of certain muscle enzymes that indicate muscular damage, may be suggested.
This condition cannot be cured completely, and the treatment focuses on improving muscle strength, and providing relief from the associated symptoms. Corticosteroids are prescribed to reduce inflammation and production of antibodies, as well as to improve muscle strength. In addition, immunosuppressants and analgesics may also be recommended.
For improving strength and flexibility, patients are guided by a physical therapist to perform dedicated exercises. As patients may experience difficulty in swallowing and speaking, they can be helped by a registered dietitian, and speech pathologist.
The prognosis and response to the treatment depends on the precise set of symptoms, complications, as well as the age and medical history of the affected individual. The prognosis is good if the condition gets diagnosed in the early stages, and is treated promptly. Most people have been observed to respond well to therapy. However, delayed treatment or neglect, can lead to physical disability. In rare cases, people may develop respiratory failures or pneumonia, which may prove to be fatal.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice.