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Polymyositis is a chronic disease involving inflammation of the skeletal muscles, which support and move the bones. The most prominent symptom of this condition is weakness in the large muscles of the neck, shoulders, upper arms, hips and thighs. Over time, people with this disorder may develop trouble with daily activities such as lifting, reaching and climbing stairs. Severe cases can lead to significant disability, especially when the muscles related to eating and breathing are affected.

Symptoms of polymyositis can include:

  • Muscles pain and stiffness
  • Muscle weakness in the shoulders, upper arms, abdomen and hips
  • Joint pain and stiffness
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Irregular heartbeat

Our rheumatologists diagnose polymyositis based on physical examination, medical history and a variety of tests, including blood work, muscle biopsy and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Most cases of polymyositis occur in people between ages 31 and 60, and the disease is more common in women than in men.

The causes of polymyositis are not clear. It is among a group of conditions called inflammatory myopathies in which the immune system attacks the body’s own muscles.

People with polymyositis vary in how well they respond to therapy. With careful management, many patients are able to achieve complete or near complete control of their symptoms and enjoy active and productive lives.

Our rheumatology specialists provide treatment to manage the symptoms of polymyositis and prevent serious complications. Although there is no cure for the disorder, many people with polymyositis see their condition improve through a combination of medication, physical therapy and specific exercises.

Because of our affiliation with the Indiana University School of Medicine, our patients with polymyositis benefit from the most advanced methods of diagnosis and treatment. Through this partnership, we also educate new generations of physicians and engage in research to improve care for people with rheumatic conditions such as polymyositis. Additionally, we use the referral network of IU Health to connect our patients with other specialists for comprehensive care.

How We Can Help

How We Can Help

Polymyositis Treatment Information

Treatment options for polymyositis include:

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Polymyositis Support Services

National organizations offering patient-friendly information on polymyositis include: