May also be called: Idiopathic Inflammatory Myopathy
Polymyositis (pol-ee-my-uh-SY-tis) is an uncommon inflammatory disease that causes
weakness, pain, and swelling in skeletal muscles
(voluntary muscles that connect bones). It is one of three diseases that are
classified as chronic inflammatory myopathies or myositis.
More to Know
Polymyositis can occur in people of all ages, but is most common in adults over
the age of 30. Women are more likely to get the disease than men.
With polymyositis, something causes the immune
system to attack healthy muscle tissue. Muscles most affected by polymyositis
include the hips, thighs, shoulders, neck, and upper arms.
In addition to progressive muscle weakness, swelling and tenderness, people with
polymyositis may have shortness of breath, fatigue, joint pain, fever, difficulty
swallowing or speaking, loss of appetite, and weight loss. Symptoms appear very gradually,
can vary greatly, and tend to get worse over time.
There is no cure for polymyositis, but it can be treated with immunosuppressant
medications and intravenous gamma globulin (a donated blood product with healthy antibodies).
A doctor might also recommend physical
therapy and speech
therapy to help improve muscle function.
Keep in Mind
Polymyositis is a serious disease than can result in life-threatening complications
such as heart disease, lung disease, and pneumonia.
With treatment, however, most people see improvement in their condition. Some might
even experience remission (an absence of symptoms).
All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical