Polymyositis

Regain your strength and ability to move freely, without pain

Polymyositis is a chronic disease involving inflammation of the skeletal muscles, which support and move the bones.

Polymyositis is among a group of conditions called inflammatory myopathies in which the immune system attacks the body’s own muscles.

The most prominent symptom of polymyositis is weakness in the large muscles of the neck, shoulders, upper arms, hips and thighs. Over time, you may develop trouble completing 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

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

Most cases of polymyositis occur between ages 31 and 60, and the disease is more common in women than in men. The causes of polymyositis are not clear.

With careful management, you may be able to achieve complete or near complete control of your symptoms and enjoy an active and productive life.

Overview

Polymyositis is among a group of conditions called inflammatory myopathies in which the immune system attacks the body’s own muscles.

The most prominent symptom of polymyositis is weakness in the large muscles of the neck, shoulders, upper arms, hips and thighs. Over time, you may develop trouble completing 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

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

Most cases of polymyositis occur between ages 31 and 60, and the disease is more common in women than in men. The causes of polymyositis are not clear.

With careful management, you may be able to achieve complete or near complete control of your symptoms and enjoy an active and productive life.

IU Health rheumatologists diagnose polymyositis based on physical examination, medical history and a variety of tests, including blood work, muscle biopsy and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Diagnosis

IU Health rheumatologists diagnose polymyositis based on physical examination, medical history and a variety of tests, including blood work, muscle biopsy and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Treatment for polymyositis is focused on managing symptoms and preventing serious complications. Although there is no cure, you may see significant improvement through a combination of treatments, including:

Corticosteroids

Synthetic hormones, such as prednisone, reduce inflammation and serve as a key treatment for polymyositis, allowing you to recover strength within three months. Potential side effects of corticosteroids include osteoporosis and weight gain.

Immune Suppressants

These medicines can alleviate symptoms of polymyositis, especially if you have not responded well to corticosteroids.

Intravenous Immunoglobulin

Some cases of polymyositis respond to the injection of this blood product, which contains antibodies from healthy donors.

Treatment

Treatment for polymyositis is focused on managing symptoms and preventing serious complications. Although there is no cure, you may see significant improvement through a combination of treatments, including:

Corticosteroids

Synthetic hormones, such as prednisone, reduce inflammation and serve as a key treatment for polymyositis, allowing you to recover strength within three months. Potential side effects of corticosteroids include osteoporosis and weight gain.

Immune Suppressants

These medicines can alleviate symptoms of polymyositis, especially if you have not responded well to corticosteroids.

Intravenous Immunoglobulin

Some cases of polymyositis respond to the injection of this blood product, which contains antibodies from healthy donors.

Patient Stories for Polymyositis

American College of Rheumatology

This organization represents rheumatologists and other rheumatology professionals and offers information on polymyositis and related conditions.

Myositis Association

This nonprofit group is focused on advocacy, education and research related to all types of myositis, including polymyositis.

Resources

American College of Rheumatology

This organization represents rheumatologists and other rheumatology professionals and offers information on polymyositis and related conditions.

Myositis Association

This nonprofit group is focused on advocacy, education and research related to all types of myositis, including polymyositis.