Polymyositis is one of a group of muscle diseases known as the inflammatory myopathies, which are characterized by chronic muscle inflammation accompanied by muscle weakness. Polymyositis affects skeletal muscles (those involved with making movement) on both sides of the body.
Polymyositis is a diagnosis of exclusion and other considerations include:
The prognosis for polymyositis varies. Most people respond fairly well to therapy, but some have a more severe disease that does not respond adequately to therapies and are left with significant disability. In rare cases individuals with severe and progressive muscle weakness will develop respiratory failure or pneumonia. Difficulty swallowing may cause weight loss and malnutrition.
Patients with polymyositis tend to have a higher risk for worse outcomes with older age, delay in cortisone treatment, cancer, lung or heart disease, or difficulty swallowing.
There is no prevention for polymyositis. When the precise cause of polymyositis is identified, preventative measures might be possible.
There is no cure for polymyositis, but the symptoms can be treated. Options include medication, physical therapy, exercise, heat therapy (including microwave and ultrasound), orthotics and assistive devices, and rest.
Currently funded research is exploring patterns of gene expression among the inflammatory myopathies, the role of viral infection as a precursor to the disorders, and the safety and efficacy of various treatment regimens.
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