Myositis is the name given to a group of rare medical conditions that lead to the general inflammation or swelling of the muscle. Myositis is typically caused by a problem in your immune system, which attacks healthy tissue by mistake.
There are three main types of myositis, which are:
Polymyositis – this affects different muscles, in particular the shoulders, hips and thigh muscles. It’s most common in women and tends to affect those between 30 and 60.
Dermatomyositis – this affects several muscles and can cause a rash. It is most common in women but can also affect children in the form of juvenile dermatomyositis.
Inclusion body myositis (IBM) – this causes weakness in the thigh and forearm muscles as well as those below the knee. It can also cause issues with swallowing and is most common in men or those over 50.
The symptoms of myositis
In general, myositis causes weak, painful or aching muscles, but it can also lead to extreme tiredness. Some other symptoms include:
Aching/pains in muscles
Finding it hard to sit up/stand after a fall
Finding it hard to hold your head up
In cases of dermatomyositis, sufferers may also develop a distinctive rash. This tends to be a dark red or purple rash that appears before the muscle symptoms start.
What current treatments for myositis are available?
There are several treatment options available for myositis. If you believe you may be suffering from one of these rare conditions, you will want to contact your doctor as soon as possible so they can start you on a treatment plan. Some of the treatment options available are:
Exercise and physiotherapy
Exercise and physiotherapy are very important and can help to reduce swelling, provide you with more energy and build up or restore your muscle strength. This is a particularly helpful treatment course for sufferers of IBM. It’s best to seek guidance from a professional and maintain gentle movements whilst increasing your exercise routine over time.
Steroids are usually the main treatment option for polymyositis and dermatomyositis. They help to reduce swelling and ease muscle pain. They can be given as tablets, injections or through a drip.
Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs
Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs can be prescribed by a GP should your swelling flare up. They are designed to suppress your immune system and help to reduce inflammation. Some examples of these are azathioprine, methotrexate, cyclophosphamide and mycophenolate.
Immunoglobulin therapy is very rarely used, but it involves having injections of healthy antibodies from donated blood.
Biologic therapies like rituximab are designed to help manage your symptoms and reduce swelling. They are usually recommended for the treatment of severe myositis.
If you’d like advice on your myositis treatment plan, contact us at our Harley Street clinic today.