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What Is Inflammatory Myopathy?

Inflammatory myopathy is a group of relatively uncommon rheumatic diseases—polymyositis, dermatomyositis and inclusion body myositis (IBM)—all of which are characterized by chronic inflammation of the muscles and other associated tissues, such as the blood vessels that supply the muscles. For reasons that are not well understood, the body’s immune system inappropriately targets these tissues, causing them to become inflamed and damaged over time.

What are the symptoms of inflammatory myopathy?

Usually, inflammatory myopathy causes little to no muscle pain. Rather, its most common symptoms include:

  • Progressive weakness in the large muscles in the neck, shoulders and hips
  • Difficulty climbing stairs, getting up from a seated position and reaching for objects overhead
  • General fatigue and lack of energy
  • Coughing and shortness of breath
  • Choking while eating and aspirating food into the lungs

Sometimes the disease can affect other parts of the body – mainly the lungs where it can cause life-threatening pulmonary fibrosis.

How is inflammatory myopathy treated?

Inflammatory myopathy can be life-threatening. When the muscle involvement is significant or the lungs are affected, early and aggressive therapy can make a tremendous difference in quality of life and prognosis. Most treatment plans involve the use of medications such as corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and immunosuppressants to suppress the inappropriate autoimmune response.

After the immunosuppressant therapy stops the inflammation from destroying the muscles, physical therapy is a key component of myopathy treatment to help regain muscle strength and improve function. Of course, every patient’s situation is unique, so his or her personal course of therapy should be discussed with a physician prior to beginning.

The importance of specialist care

Inflammatory myopathy is a complex condition that can be challenging to diagnose and treat. To achieve the best possible outcome, it’s essential to receive an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment from an experienced specialist. In Houston, TX, you will find the necessary expertise at Advanced Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine. Contact us to schedule an appointment with a rheumatologist today.