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Polymyositis is a rare, chronic and degenerative disease characterized by progressive inflammation of the muscles, causing pain, weakness and difficulty in performing movements. Inflammation usually happens in the muscles that are related to the trunk, that is, there may be involvement of the neck, hips, back, thighs and shoulders, for example.
The main cause of polymyositis are autoimmune diseases, in which the immune system begins to attack the body itself, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, scleroderma and Sjögren's syndrome, for example. This disease is more common in women and the diagnosis is usually between 30 and 60 years of age, and polymyositis is rare in children.
The initial diagnosis is made from the evaluation of the person's symptoms and family history, and treatment usually includes the use of immunosuppressive drugs and physical therapy.
The main symptoms of polymyositis are related to muscle inflammation and are:
- Joint pain;
- Muscle pain;
- Muscle weakness;
- Difficulty performing simple movements, such as getting up from a chair or putting the arm over the head;
- Weight loss;
- Color change of the fingertips, known as Raynaud's phenomenon or disease.
Some people with polymyositis may have involvement of the esophagus or lungs, leading to difficulty swallowing and breathing, respectively.
Inflammation normally occurs on both sides of the body and, if left untreated, can cause muscles to atrophy. Therefore, when identifying any of the symptoms, it is important to go to the doctor so that the diagnosis can be made and the treatment can be started.
What is the difference between polymyositis and dermatomyositis?
Like polymyositis, dermatomyositis is also an inflammatory myopathy, that is, a chronic degenerative disease characterized by inflammation of the muscles. However, in addition to muscle involvement, dermatomyositis causes skin lesions, such as red spots on the skin, especially on the joints of the fingers and knees, in addition to swelling and redness around the eyes. Learn more about dermatomyositis.
How to confirm the diagnosis
The diagnosis is made according to the person's family history and symptoms. To confirm the diagnosis, the doctor may request a muscle biopsy or an exam that is capable of evaluating the activity of the muscle from the application of electrical currents, electromyography.Learn more about electromyography and when it's needed.
In addition, biochemical tests may also be requested to assess muscle function, such as myoglobin and creatine phosphokinase or CPK tests, for example. Understand how the CPK exam is done.
How the treatment is done
Treatment of polymyositis aims to relieve symptoms, as this chronic degenerative disease has no cure. Therefore, the doctor may recommend the use of corticosteroid drugs, such as Prednisone, to relieve pain and reduce muscle inflammation, in addition to immunosuppressants, such as Methotrexate and Cyclophosphamide, for example, with the aim of reducing the immune response. against the organism itself.
In addition, physiotherapy is recommended to recover movements and avoid muscle atrophy, since in polymyositis the muscles are weakened, making it difficult to perform simple movements, such as placing the hand on the head, for example.
If the esophageal muscles are also compromised, causing difficulty in swallowing, it may also be advisable to see a speech therapist.