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What is Polymyositis?

Polymyositis is an inflammatory muscle disease that causes varying degrees of decreased muscle power. The disease has a gradual onset and generally begins in the second decade of life. Polymyositis rarely affects persons under the age of 18.

What Causes Polymyositis?

The exact cause of polymyositis is unknown. However, polymyositis may be associated with other collagen, vascular, autoimmune, or infectious disorders.

Symptoms of Polymyositis

The most common symptom of polymyositis is muscle weakness. Usually, the muscles affected are those that are closest to the trunk of the body. As polymyositis worsens, the muscles that are not close to the trunk of the body will also weaken, and patients will have difficulty rising from a sitting position, climbing stairs, lifting objects, or reaching overhead. Trouble with swallowing may occur and the muscles may ache and be tender to touch.

Can Polymyositis be Treated?

Yes. The most common treatments are steroids, immunosuppressants, and physical therapy.

Complications of Polymyositis

Some complications of polymyositis are:

  • severe and progressive muscle weakness
  • difficulty swallowing
  • malnutrition
  • pneumonia
  • respiratory failure.

Death is rare but may occur in severe cases.

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