Myositis and it's Diseases

Myositis refers to inflammation of the muscles ("Myo" means muscle and "itis" means inflammation).  Myositis is a term that describes several diseases, including:

All forms of Myositis involve chronic, or persistent muscle inflammation, and almost always results in weakness of muscles, falling down frequently, swelling of feet and legs, loss of strength and pain in the muscles and joints for many patients with this disease.

Early indications of inflammation of the muscles may include...

  • Difficulty in rising from a chair, climbing steps, lifting the arms and experiencing falling at random

  • Become exceedingly fatigued after prolonged standing or walking

  • Loss of strength throughout the body

  • Difficulty in swallowing and labored breathing

It is estimated each year five to seven out of every one million people will get a form of Myositis.

Lucille and Jim Kilpatrick at a Support Group Meeting in Dallas, Texas

Although Myositis can affect people of any age, most children who get the disease are between 5 and 15 years of age and most adults are between 30 and 60 + years of age.  Like many other inflammatory diseases, most forms of Myositis attack more women than men.  The exception is Inclusion Body Myositis (IBM).  This form of Myositis affects more men than women.

No one is sure what causes Myositis because Myositis has many forms and probably has many causes.  All medical professionals do not agree about the causes of a Myositis disease.

A physician will run a battery of tests while processing a diagnosis, asking many questions, a complete examination, blood tests for numerous diseases or factors; including a blood test for a muscle enzyme called creatine kinasis or CK, possibly a spinal tap, an electromyogram (EMG), an MRI and a muscle biopsy.  It may be necessary to repeat many of the tests and biopsies.

Treatments and medications vary from person to person and will change as the disease progresses.  A therapy or medication recommended by one physician may vary from that of another physician.  The severity and types of problems have to be considered as each person's situation is not the same as another, even though both may be diagnosed as having the same Myositis disease.

CORTICOSTERIODS:  Virtually every physicians' first prescription is Prednisone.  The drug helps with DM, PM, JDM and to some limited extent, IBM.  Often Prednisone creates more problems in other areas of the body than expected.  Some side effects include weight gain, moon face, barrel chest, moon belly, depression, mood swings, easy bruising, thinning of the bones, high blood pressure, cataracts, diarrhea, and diabetes.

Jim Kilpatrick & Dr. Aziz Shaibana

Jim Kilpatrick and 
Dr. Aziz Shaibani, Director, Nerve & Muscle Center of Texas, Houston

Anyone taking corticosteriods should be monitored carefully by their physician and should report any new medical problems immediately.

Some physicians will include other immunosuppressants or corticosteriods which may or may not help every patient.

IMMUNOSUPPRESSANTS:  If a patient does not respond favorably to Prednisone, other drugs called immunosuppressants (commonly Methotrexate and Azathioprine) are sometimes used.  These drugs slow down the immune system, reducing its ability to attack infections and attack healthy tissue in persons with autoimmune diseases.

Immunosuppressant drugs are powerful and can result in side effects such as an upset stomach, diarrhea, loss of appetite, mouth sores, hair loss, skin rash, chills, fever, and other various effects on some patients.

Myositis, like most forms of muscle disorders, is a chronic disease.  It affects every person differently.  Some people have remissions and flares which may or may not last for a long time.  At the present, IBM patients have little option of beneficial treatment except IVIg which is an expensive and controversial treatment among the medical professionals.

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