Some medical conditions get plenty of attention in the mainstream media, online, and in general conversation. On the other hand, there is a countless number of conditions that receive no attention at all, and one of them is polymyositis. Right now, you are likely saying to yourself, “What is polymyositis? I never heard of that one.”

If you are or someone you know is experiencing unexplained muscle weakness, you should talk with Dr. Samir Yahia, the rheumatologist here at the Shelby Macomb Medical Mall, about polymyositis.

Following is basic information you may wish to understand before speaking with a doctor about your symptoms.

What is Polymyositis?

Polymyositis is one of several types of muscle diseases characterized by inflammation of the muscles or related tissues, such as the blood vessels that supply the muscles, in response to the cell damage.

The root word of the disease, myopathy, is a medical term used to describe a number of conditions affecting the muscles. In addition to polymyositis, the main types of inflammatory myopathies are dermatomyositis, inclusion body myositis, and necrotizing autoimmune myopathy.

Individuals who have polymyositis experience weakness of the shoulders, upper arms, hips, thighs, and neck. Other symptoms of polymyositis include pain and tenderness in affected areas and problems swallowing. The heart and lung muscle tissues may also be inflamed, a symptom that a physician can identify with imaging and other diagnostic techniques.

When and if symptoms are severe, some patients may temporarily need a cane, walker, or wheelchair. The cause of this muscle disease is unclear, but it is not believed to be genetic.

Polymyositis Treatment

Polymyositis is not a life-threatening illness. While the symptoms can linger for several months or years, the condition can be alleviated with treatment. In fact, many patients recover completely, although symptoms may return later if treatment is not continued.

Treatments aim to suppress the immune system to alleviate the inflammation that occurs as a result of the characteristic muscle damage. Rheumatologists and other physicians can treat polymyositis in a number of ways:

• Medications

• Intravenous infusion of antibodies

• Physical therapy, including range-of-motion exercises and water exercises

For more information about polymyositis or other inflammatory myopathies, make an appointment to see Dr. Yahia by calling the office in Shelby Township.