Also known as muscle inflammation, inflammatory myositis is a rare condition that can affect people all ages.
There are two main clusters of patients; children between the ages of 5 to 15 years and adults between the ages of 30 to 65 years. Generally, women are twice more likely to develop myositis than men.
This condition causes the muscle to be weak and can also result in muscle ache and swelling. There are many types of inflammatory myositis but the major types include:
In addition to muscle weakness, there may be a rash on the skin, especially around the eye-lids and the fingers. Cancer is found in approximately 10%-20% of cases. Sometimes, the muscle problem develops first. In other cases, the cancer is detected before the myositis.
The condition may affect the muscles alone without a rash. Cancer is not commonly associated with polymyositis, unlike in dermatomyositis.
The condition causes severe muscle weakness and wasting throughout the body over a long period of time.
The condition is triggered by the body's response to a type of cholesterol lowering drug called statins. The symptoms of muscle pain and weakness can manifest over a short period of time, but patients can also improve rapidly once the medication is stopped.
In dermatomyositis and polymyositis, weakness usually affects muscles near the centre of the body like the neck, shoulders and hips. Patients can experience difficulty with simple tasks like combing their hair, dressing, getting into a car, and standing up from a sitting position or climbing stairs. About one third or half of such patients also have problems swallowing and often choke when drinking fluids. Some patients with dermatomyositis and polymyositis also have lung involvement which results in cough and breathlessness.
General symptoms like lethargy, fatigue, weight loss and poor appetite are also very common.
While there are no known cures for myositis at the moment, treatment strategies aim to alleviate symptoms and manage the progression of the condition through the following methods:
Physical therapy and specially designed exercise programmes are very important for recovery of muscle strength.
Treatment of the underlying cancer should take priority either by surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
If you are suffering from myositis, here's what you can do to cope:
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