Myositis, which means “muscle inflammation,” is perhaps not as widely known or understood as some other muscle diseases. One of its most common causes is an aberration of the immune system that damages healthy muscle tissue. Muscle inflammation comes in different strains and degrees of severity with polymyositis and dermatomyositis occurring most frequently. Age is one factor that influences which type of myositis an individual is most likely to contract. Doctors use blood tests, muscle biopsies, and MRI scans to make their diagnoses.
Inflammation After a Virus
A milder type of this disease is called post-infectious reactive myositis. Inflammation of the muscles causes this version of myositis sickness that occurs after the patient catches a viral cold. In most cases, the inflammation goes down in a short while without the need for medical treatment. Only in the unlikely event that the muscles remain inflamed is it necessary to consult a doctor.
Skin Rashes on the Face
The version of the disease known as dermatomyositis, which typically involves a rash, is more likely to affect women than men. The rash is often reddish or purple, and it can break out on the face or the back and chest. It’s likely to be very unsightly and quite itchy. Sometimes hard tissue builds up under the skin to make the lumps that doctors call calcinosis.
Weakening of the Thigh Muscles
One of the most severe types is called inclusion body myositis, or IBM. IBM weakens the thigh and arm muscles to such an extent that it affects the ability to move fingers and toes. Regular movements that people usually do with little thought become difficult. For example, a man with IBM who is walking may drag one foot along the ground because he cannot easily lift it. IBM most often occurs in middle-aged and older men, but it can also affect others.
Weakening of Muscles Throughout the Body
Another very challenging type of myositis is called polymyositis, which affects the patient in different areas simultaneously. In this case, the weakness appears in many muscles in the shoulders, hips, and thighs. Women in their middle years are more likely to get polymyositis than any other group of the population.
Temporary or Longer Term Bouts
Myositis can be a long-term medical issue or a relatively short-term problem. It typically lasts for at least three or four weeks before disappearing. Some people experience a series of ups and downs during which their myositis comes and goes. Severe cases may last a few years and then calm down. However, in its most aggravated form, it may continue unabated for a very long time, usually worsening if the patient doesn’t receive appropriate treatment.
Along with muscle weakness, myositis patients often experience pains in the joints and muscles, similar to the symptoms of arthritis. The severity of these pains and how long they continue varies between patients. Self-diagnosis is difficult based on these symptoms, and only a qualified doctor can conclusively determine whether myositis is the problem based on standard tests.
Myositis patients suffer from extreme fatigue. Sometimes they become exhausted from walking, and even standing for a certain time may also have the same effect. The multiple possible causes of fatigue make it impossible to diagnose the cause without additional data, but if someone knows they have myositis, it might also explain why they feel so drained.
Major Mobility Limitations
In its most severe forms, myositis can have a crippling effect. It can become extremely difficult for myositis patients to rise from a chair or bed or to go upstairs. Even such simple tasks as lifting a cup of water or brushing hair turn into major challenges. They might even find it difficult to move their heads if the myositis has damaged muscles in the neck.
Triggered by Certain Medications
Some cases of myositis may be triggered by a reaction to statin medicines prescribed to treat cholesterol problems. Doctors call this type of muscle illness toxic myopathy. It is one of the easier forms of the illness to treat because after the doctor replaces the problematic medication, the muscle damage quickly gets reversed. However, if the cause of the illness is narcotics abuse, treatment becomes more complicated.
Myositis sufferers may also experience breathing difficulties and an irritating dry cough. These health issues may be linked with damage to the neck muscles, though an unrelated health issue could also be the cause. Get a thorough checkup and professional diagnosis to figure out what is at the root of the symptom.