Myositis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Myositis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Myositis is a general name given to a group of conditions causing muscle inflammation. The diseases are also called as inflammatory myopathies and may cause muscle weakness, damage, and pain. In most of the cases, this disease tends to respond to medical treatments. 

Myositis is a rare condition and most of the people suffering from this type of muscle inflammation need medical care. However, certain natural and lifestyle therapies can also be used to ease the symptoms. 

What is Myositis? 

Myositis is an umbrella term used for a collection of muscle diseases characterized by muscle damage and inflammation. The inflammation particularly affects the muscles that you utilize to move, such as your back, arms, leg muscles, and neck. 

Technically, myositis has no cure. However, a lot of people with inflammatory myopathy has excellently controlled the majority of their symptoms. 

A diagnosis of myositis can be made on the basis of your symptoms, an x-ray of your lungs and chest, blood tests, an MRI, electromyography, and the biopsy of your muscle or skin. 

What are the Signs and Symptoms? 

Myositis can be of different types, each with its own set of signs and symptoms. The most common symptoms seen in almost every type of myositis include: 

  • Being clumsy and often falling or tripping 
  • Feeling extremely weak and tired, usually after walking, standing, or climbing stairs 
  • Difficulty in breathing 
  • Problems in swallowing 
  • Sore, painful, or weak muscles, particularly after activity 
  • A weakness that tends to worsen over time 

What are the Causes and Risk Factors? 

A lot of cases of myositis do not tend to have a clear cause. They occur as the immune system of your body starts attacking its own joints, muscles, connective tissues, and blood vessels. 

Such cases are referred to as autoimmune myositis. Toxic myopathies, on the other hand, usually occur as a result of a reaction to certain medications. 

Myositis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Generally speaking, the causes of myositis may include: 

  • Viruses such as HTLV-1, HIV/AIDS, or the Coxsackie B virus 
  • Medicines such as penicillamine (used for lowering copper in the blood),carticaine (an anesthetic drug), cimetidine (a medicine for ulcer), phenytoin (a seizure drug), interferon-alpha (a drug for hepatitis or cancer), carbimazole (thyroid medicine), statin medicines, or growth hormones 
  • A temporary infection triggered by a bacteria, fungus, or virus 
  • Allergic reactions to a toxic substance or a medicine 
  • Any type of injury 

There are several risk factors for myositis which may include: 

  • Age 

Polymyositis affects adults of ages 30 to 60 years 

Juvenile myositis tends to affect kids between the ages of 2 to 15 years 

Dermatomyositis affects both children and adults and is the commonest myositis diagnosis in kids 

Necrotizing autoimmune myopathy is estimated to affect individuals of any age but is more commonly seen in adults 

Inclusion body myositis is commonest in adults of 50 years or more 

  • Gender 

Polymyositis and dermatomyositis are more commonly seen in females as compared to males 

Inclusion body myositis, on the other hand, tends to hit males more than females 

  • Exposure to certain medicines such as statins 
  • Diagnosis of HIV 
  • Presence of other connective tissue disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, scleroderma, and Sjogren’s syndrome 

Conventional Treatment 

Chronic types of myositis have no cure. However, several forms of this disease can be successfully treated so that their symptoms get minimal or are gone for a long period of time. Polymyositis and Dermatomyositis respond best to the treatment. Necrotizing and juvenile types also have a good treatment response. 

RELATED: Understand Different Types of Arthritis

The most difficult type of myositis to treat is the inclusion body myositis. This is because there are no effective medication options to tackle it. 

As per the National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the treatment for these chronic inflammatory myopathies may include: 

  • Medicines, such as initial high doses of various corticosteroids 
  • For people not responding to the first course of drugs, immunosuppressants may be given to decrease inflammation 
  • Certain individuals may also receive periodic doses of these immunosuppressant medications to prevent the development of symptoms 
  • In cases not responding to the main drugs of choice, biologic therapies or adrenocorticotropic hormone gel may work 
  • Topical ointments are recommended to treat skin bumps and rashes 
  • Protective measures are suggested to be followed such as avoiding excessive exposure to the sun, wearing protective clothing, using sunscreen, and undergoing surgical processes to get rid of calcium bumps present under the skin causing infection and pain. 
  • Physical therapy is given to prevent muscle atrophy and maintain flexibility and strength 
  • Orthotics, occupational therapy, and certain tools are used to assist with the daily activities which may otherwise be very difficult to carry out 
  • Targeted drugs are provided to address specific symptoms such as trouble swallowing 

How to Treat Myositis at Home
Because myositis is a chronic disease that tends to worsen over the time, you must seek professional help to treat it. In addition to this, a lot of people benefit from simple home remedies and self-care while staying at home.  

Don’t forget to work with your physician if you wish to include these remedies into your daily care plan. Discuss with them how you wish to make any changes in your diet, supplements, exercise, or herbal remedies. This is because a lot of home remedies tend to interfere with the mechanisms of various drugs. 

Myositis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Get the Most out of Occupational and Physical Therapy 

Occupational and physical therapy are usually recommended by physicians to treat myositis. If you have a prescription for these therapy sessions, don’t forget to take maximum advantage of them. These sessions provide personalized therapy that makes a huge difference in how well you function and take care of yourself. 

Exercise Often and Get Strategic Rest 

Despite that fact that physical activity causes fatigue and weakness in many patients of myositis, it is considered as a key component of therapy. Resting too much or taking extensive bed rests may actually worsen the condition in many patients. 

Lost of rest can further stimulate muscle damage and make your disease worse. So, try to indulge in light exercises and avoid resting for too long. 

Go for Heat Therapy 

Heat therapy includes a wide range of treatments focusing on heating the affected muscles in a number of ways. In a lot of cases, physical therapists may even recommend heat therapy shortly after you have performed any exercise or when you are particularly feeling sore or tired. 

Heat therapy is said to relax muscles and relieve pain. It can ease swelling and may improve blood flow. 

The Johns Hopkins Myositis Center has recommended going for heat packs, whirlpool baths and gentle massage to treat inflamed muscles. 

Take Good Care of your Skin 

People suffering from dermatomyositis may suffer from flare-ups when they spend a lot of time in the sun. Since the symptoms may get very severe, it is better to use sun protection. The following tips must be kept in mind by all the patients of dermatomyositis: 

  • Use an SPF50+ sunscreen with UVA and UVB protection every day on all exposed skin areas, even if you plan to stay indoors 
  • Reapply the sunscreen often, especially about half an hour before going out in the sun 
  • Always remember to reapply the sunscreen once you have washed your hands 
  • Wear sunglasses and a hat 
  • Buy protective clothing 
  • Consider using gloves and wear a long-sleeved shirt and pants or a long skirt while going outside, sitting near a window, or driving 


Nancy Walker

Nancy holds a Medicine degree and a Masters of Science MS in Infectious Disease and Global Health (MS-IDGH) from Tufts University. She worked as a lecturer for three years before she turned towards medical writing. Her area of interest are infectious diseases; causes, mechanism, diagnosis, treatments and prevention strategies. Most of her writings ensure an easy understanding of uncommon diseases.

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