POLYMYOSITIS - Overview, Facts, Types, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Medications


Polymyositis is one of the inflammatory myopathies also known as myositis. It is a muscle disease where there is inflammation in response to cell damage. This inflammation weakens the muscles of your body. You may experience difficulty in climbing stairs, rising from a seated position, lifting objects or reaching overhead.

Polymyositis is most common in your 30s, 40s or 50s. It is also more common in blacks than whites, affecting more women than men. Its signs and symptoms gradually develop over weeks or months. Polymyositis has no cure but treatments like medications and physical therapy are a big help in improving muscle function and strength.

If you notice symptoms, immediately consult with your healthcare professional.

Below are the symptoms of Polymyositis (PM):

  • Shoulder muscles are weak
  • Pain or tenderness of the shoulder muscles
  • Swallowing problems
  • Inflammation of the heart and lung muscle tissues
  • Trouble extending the knee
  • Hassle stepping down or climbing stairs
  • Left and right sides of the body are mostly affected
  • Heart and respiratory problems
  • Difficulty lifting things
  • Hard to raise the head off the bed
  • Difficulty fixing the hair or putting things on a high shelf
  • Other respiratory complications such as difficulty in breathing


If you have these symptoms, your doctor may have a diagnosis. If if he or she suspects you to have polymyositis, the following lab tests may be requested:

  • Blood tests. A blood test can check the levels of creatine kinase (CK), an enzyme that leaks out of the muscle fibers when the fibers are being damaged.
  • Tiny needles are inserted into the muscles to test their electrical activity
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), an imaging study.
  • Muscle biopsy.A small piece of muscle is removed for examination

Your healthcare provider will also consider your medical history, family history and physical examination results before concluding that you have polymyositis.


Although there’s no cure for polymyositis, early treatment of this condition can improve muscle strength and function and is effective in lessening complications.

Your doctors will plan your treatment based on your symptoms.


The most commonly used medications to treat polymyositis include:

  • These medicines, such as prednisone, can effectively control polymyositis symptoms. However, these medicines have many side effects when used  for a long time.
  • Corticosteroid-sparing agents.When combined with a corticosteroid, these drugs can lessen the possible side effects of Examples are Azathioprine and methotrexate.
  • This is an initial treatment but actually doesn’t control the symptoms of polymyositis.


Depending on the severity of your symptoms, your doctor might suggest:

  • Physical therapy. Certain exercises will be demonstrated by your physical therapist. To help improve and maintain your strength and flexibility, you will be taught some exercises
  • Speech therapy. Speech therapy can help with your weak swallowing muscles.
  • Dietetic assessment.A registered dietitian will advise you about obtaining easy-to-eat and nutritious foods when polymyositis affects your chewing and swallowing muscles.

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