Diane Safer, PhD
Polymyositis is a rare disease of the muscles. It usually affects the muscles closest to the trunk of the body. However, it may affect muscles anywhere in the body.
Polymyositis may be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors that trigger an abnormal immune response.
Polymyositis is more common in women and in people aged 31-60 years old.
Polymyositis causes muscles become inflamed or swollen. Symptoms may include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Your bodily fluids and tissues may be tested. This can be done with:
Your muscle activity may be measured. This can be done with an electromyogram (EMG).
Images may be taken of your bodily structures. This can be done with an
The disease is progressive and starts slowly. If untreated, the muscles gradually become weaker. The pain in the muscles also increases. While there is no cure, treatment can improve your muscle strength and function. Talk with your doctor about the best plan for you. Options include:
Medications to treat polymyositis may include:
is another treatment option. It involves using an IV needle to inject extra immunoglobins (special proteins) into the body. This process may help the immune system function better and reduce inflammation.
Your doctor may recommend that you work with a physical therapist to prevent permanent muscle damage. Exercise may include:
Polymyositis can lead to problems with chewing and swallowing. By working with a registered dietitian, you can learn ways to adjust to these changes and get the nutrition that you need.
Polymyositis may also cause speech problems. A speech therapist can assess your condition and create a program for you.
There are no current guidelines to prevent polymyositis.
American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association
The Myositis Association
The Arthritis Society
Choy EH, Hoogendijk JE, Lecky B, Winer JB, Gordon P. Immunosuppressant and immunomodulatory treatment for dermatomyositis and polymyositis.
Cochrane Database Syst Rev.
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http://www.myositis.org/learn-about-myositis/diagnosis. Updated March 2015. Accessed June 26, 2015.
Idiopathic inflammatory myopathy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
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Myositis. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Ortho Info website. Available at:
http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00198. Updated July 2007. Accessed June 23, 2015.
Treatment. Myositis Association website. Available at:
http://www.myositis.org/learn-about-myositis/treatment. Updated March 2015. Accessed June 23, 2015.
Types of myositis. Myositis Association website. Available at:
http://www.myositis.org/learn-about-myositis/types-of-myositis. Updated January 2015. Accessed June 23, 2015.
NINDS Polymyositis information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at:
http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/polymyositis/polymyositis.htm. Updated February 23, 2015. Accessed June 23, 2015.
Simply stated: the creatine kinase test.
Last reviewed June 2015 by
John C. Keel, 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.
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