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Understanding Inflammatory Myopathy

Sandeep Dhanyamraju MD
Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju
Sandeep Dhanyamraju MD
Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju

Inflammatory myopathy is a group of rare immunological illnesses. Among their characteristics is a chronic inflammation of the muscles. It leads to their weakness and other associated manifestations. This condition affects the skeletal muscles, which are responsible for body movement. It can impact a person’s quality of life. There are two most common types of IM. Among them are dermatomyositis and polymyositis. Each has its unique features and clinical presentations. The exact cause of IM remains unclear. Such an illness can lead to muscle pain, weakness, and fatigue, as well as skin rashes in the case of dermatomyositis. 

Inflammatory myopathy diagnosis involves a combination of medical history and physical examination. Also, muscle biopsies and gore tests. There is no cure for such an illness. Immunosuppressive medications, physical therapy, and lifestyle modifications aim to manage signs. Also, to improve a patient’s well-being. Ongoing research continues to explore the underlying mechanisms of this condition. It offers hope for more effective inflammatory myopathy therapy in the future.

What is Inflammatory Myopathy?

It is important to know what inflammatory myopathy is. This is a group of rare autoimmune diseases that affect the muscles. IM leads to chronic inflammation, muscle weakness, and various associated symptoms. These conditions fall under the category of autoimmune myopathies. Such illness occurs when the body’s protection system targets. It attacks its muscle tissues, leading to muscle inflammation and damage. This immune-mediated process can result in muscle pain and weakness. Also, fatigue makes it difficult for affected individuals to perform everyday tasks. The exact cause of inflammatory myopathy remains unknown. Genetic and environmental factors play a big role. 

Inflammatory myopathy diagnosis involves a combination of medical history and physical examination. Also, gore tests and muscle biopsies. There is currently no treatment for this disease. Cure options often involve immunosuppressive medications to control the immune response, along. Physical therapy and lifestyle adjustments to manage signs and enhance life quality. Ongoing research seeks to understand the underlying mechanisms of these conditions better. 

A hand cradling an aching elbow

Inflammatory Myopathy Types

Such illness encompasses a spectrum of rare autoimmune disorders. They affect skeletal muscles, causing chronic inflammation and muscle weakness. There are several distinct types of inflammatory myopathies. Each with its clinical characteristics and specific features. Two of the most well-recognized types are dermatomyositis and polymyositis. Dermatomyositis is by both muscle inflammation and skin involvement. This leads to a distinctive rash on the skin. Such a condition often presents with muscle weakness and various skin changes. This makes it unique among IM.

Polymyositis involves inflammation of muscle without the accompanying skin manifestations seen in dermatomyositis. Patients with polymyositis experience muscle weakness, pain, and fatigue. There are the less common types. Among them are body myositis, necrotizing autoimmune myopathy, and antisynthetase syndrome. Each has its own distinct clinical and histological features. These conditions share the hallmark of immune-mediated muscle inflammation. Their specific clinical presentations and underlying mechanisms may vary. Necessitating tailored approaches to diagnosis and treatment for each subtype of inflammatory myopathy.

Dermatomyositis

This is a rare autoimmune IM characterized by muscle irritation. Also, distinctive skin manifestations. This condition affects the skeletal muscles, leading to muscle weakness, pain, and fatigue. What sets dermatomyositis apart from other IM is the presence of skin changes. They include a reddish or purple rash, most on the face, neck, and chest. Other skin manifestations may involve swelling, skin thickening, or cutaneous ulcerations. The exact cause of dermatomyositis remains unclear. It involves abnormal immune responses. Inflammatory myopathy treatment includes immunosuppressive medications to manage irritation. Also, physical therapy, and sun protection for the skin due to increased sensitivity.

Polymyositis

This is a rare autoimmune IM characterized by muscle inflammation and weakness. Unlike dermatomyositis, polymyositis doesn’t exhibit prominent skin involvement. This condition affects the skeletal muscles, leading to muscle pain, fatigue, and weakness. It can result in difficulties with mobility and everyday activities. The exact cause of polymyositis is still not fully understood, but it involves an abnormal immune response. Inflammation myopathy treatment often includes immunosuppressive medications. They control irritation and may include physical therapy. This way, it is possible to improve muscle strength and function. Early diagnosis and prompt intervention are essential for managing clinical manifestations. Also, for improving the patient’s quality of life.

Inclusion body myositis

IBM is a rare and progressive inflammatory myopathy that primarily affects older adults. Typically over the age of 50. Unlike other forms, IBM is distinct in its clinical presentation and response to treatment. This condition is weakness, particularly in the muscles of the fingers and wrists and quadriceps. IBM gets its name from the characteristic “inclusions” or abnormal protein deposits found. Within muscle cells, which contribute to muscle damage. IBM tends to be less responsive to classic immunosuppressive therapies. making it particularly challenging to manage. There is no known cure for IBM, and treatment focuses on signs management and physical therapy to maintain mobility and function. The exact cause of IBM remains unclear. It results from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Ongoing research aims to uncover the underlying mechanisms of IBM. Also, to develop more effective inflammatory myopathy treatments.

Antisynthetase syndrome

It is a rare autoimmune disorder characterized by the presence of specific autoantibodies. These antibodies target enzymes involved in protein synthesis. Polymyositis and dermatomyositis are closely associated with inflammatory myopathy. Antisynthetase syndrome is a muscle inflammation and weakness, joint pain. Also, interstitial lung disease and skin rashes. Lung involvement is a prominent feature, leading to breathing difficulties and fibrosis. Early diagnosis is crucial, and treatment typically involves immunosuppressive medications. The aim is to manage inflammation, along with therapies to address specific symptoms. Close monitoring and multidisciplinary care are essential. They help to improve the patient’s quality of life and manage this complex condition.

Juvenile dermatomyositis

JDM is a rare autoimmune inflammatory myopathy that primarily affects children and adolescents. It includes muscle irritation, muscle weakness, and distinctive skin changes. Such as a violet-colored rash on the eyelids and knuckles. JDM can lead to muscle pain, fatigue, and mobility challenges. They impact a child’s daily life and activities. The exact cause of JDM is not fully understood. It involves abnormal immune responses. Timely diagnosis is critical to start appropriate treatment. It includes immunosuppressive medications and physical therapy. This way is possible to manage inflammation and improve muscle strength. Early intervention and ongoing care are necessary. This way, many children with JDM can achieve improved long-term outcomes and quality of life.

A pained expression with a hand on the shoulder, signaling inflammation

Inflammatory Myopathies Symptoms

Inflammatory myopathies symptoms encompass a group of rare autoimmune muscle disorders. With a common hallmark of chronic muscle inflammation. The signs can vary depending on the specific type of IM but generally include:

  • Muscle Weakness: This is a primary symptom affecting various muscle groups. It often makes it difficult to perform daily tasks.
  • Muscle Pain: Individuals may experience muscle pain or discomfort. It can be widespread or localized to specific muscle groups.
  • Fatigue: Muscle inflammation and weakness can lead to significant fatigue. They reduce energy levels.
  • Skin Changes: In the case of dermatomyositis, a distinct skin rash on the face, neck, and chest may be present.
  • Difficulty Swallowing: Some forms of IM can affect the muscles involved in swallowing. This way is causing dysphagia.
  • Joint Pain: It can occur in some types, particularly in overlap syndromes.
  • Breathing Difficulties: Lung involvement may lead to shortness of breath and cough. Also, an interstitial lung disease in certain cases.
  • Muscle Atrophy: Over time, untreated IM may lead to muscle atrophy or loss of muscle mass.

Early diagnosis and appropriate management are essential to ease manifestations. Slow disease progression and enhance the patient’s quality of life.

Inflammatory Myopathies Diagnosis 

This is a complex process. It includes a combination of clinical evaluation, laboratory tests, and sometimes invasive procedures. Key steps in the inflammatory myopathy diagnosis include:

  • Medical History and Physical Examination: The doctor will discuss these moments. He conducts a thorough physical examination to assess muscle strength. Also, mobility and any associated skin or systemic symptoms.
  • Blood Tests: They detect specific markers. Such as elevated creatine kinase levels and the presence of autoantibodies.
  • Muscle Biopsy: It is often essential to confirm the presence of muscle inflammation. Also, assess the extent of muscle damage. This procedure involves removing a small piece of muscle tissue for examination under a microscope.
  • Electromyography: EMG measures electrical activity in the muscles. It helps identify patterns consistent with muscle inflammation or damage.
  • Imaging Studies: X-rays, MRI, or CT scans help to assess muscle and lung involvement.
  • Pulmonary Function Tests: If lung involvement, pulmonary function tests can test lung capacity.
  • Other Tests: Skin or joint biopsies or autoimmune serology are necessary in specific cases. Particularly for overlap syndromes.

Accurate diagnosis is crucial to tailor treatment strategies. Different inflammatory myopathies types may need distinct therapeutic approaches. You can find more information about it on our site.

Inflammatory Myopathies Treatment 

Healing methods aim to manage muscle inflammation. Also, eases signs and improves the patient’s quality of life. Therapy approaches may vary depending on the specific type of illness and individual patient needs. Common inflammatory myopathy treatments include:

  • Immunosuppressive Medications: Corticosteroids like prednisone are often the first-line treatment. They help to suppress the immune system’s inflammatory response. Methotrexate, azathioprine, or mycophenolate mofetil are necessary to reduce corticosteroid doses.
  • Physical Therapy: It plays a critical role in maintaining muscle strength and function. Also, improving mobility and managing joint stiffness.
  • Medicines for Sign Management: Pain relievers, NSAIDs, and drugs to address specific signs. 
  • Biologic Therapies: In refractory cases, biologic agents like rituximab or  IVIG are necessary.
  • Sun Protection: Patients with dermatomyositis should protect their skin from sun exposure. This way, they cut skin rash exacerbation.
  • Lung Care: In cases of lung involvement, respiratory therapy and medications may be necessary. They help to manage lung manifestations and prevent complications.
  • Supportive Care: Mobility aids nutritional and psychological support can enhance the patient’s well-being.

The treatment plan is individual, and close medical monitoring is crucial to manage disease activity and side effects. Early intervention and multidisciplinary care may improve outcomes for individuals with inflammatory myopathies.

Conclusion

IM represents a group of rare autoimmune muscle disorders that can affect an individual’s life. It is possible to characterize it by dermatomyositis, polymyositis, and inclusion body myositis. They lead to muscle weakness, pain, and a range of associated manifestations. Early and accurate diagnosis is essential. Timely intervention can impact disease progression and the patient’s quality of life. While there is no cure for IM, treatment options aim to manage inflammation of muscles. Also, it reduces manifestations and improves muscle function. 

Immunosuppressive medicines, physical and sign-specific therapies are often a part of the treatment plan. Research into these conditions continues. It offers hope for more effective treatments in the future. Living with an IM can be challenging. Proper medical care, supportive therapies, and a multidisciplinary approach are necessary. Individuals affected by these disorders can achieve better control over their signs. Also, they may maintain a higher quality of life. You should contact a doctor immediately after you recognize IM manifestations.

FAQ

What triggers inflammatory myopathy?

They are not fully understood. Genetic predisposition and environmental factors start the autoimmune response against muscle tissue.

How common is inflammatory myopathy?

Such illnesses are rare, with an estimated prevalence of approximately 10 to 20 cases per 100,000 people. This makes them relatively uncommon conditions.

Are there any lifestyle changes that can help manage symptoms?

Yes, certain lifestyle changes can help manage signs of inflammatory myopathies. Regular low-impact exercise, a balanced diet, and sun protection for dermatomyositis patients. Also,  stress reduction techniques to improve well-being.

Can inflammatory myopathy be cured?

No, there is no cure, but it can often be effectively managed through a combination of medical treatments. Also, lifestyle adjustments to control symptoms and improve the patient’s quality of life.

 

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Edward Medina
Edward Medina
15:34 30 Jun 22
Just such an amazing staff that makes you feel like part of their family. I’ve been going there for over 5 years now... and each visit I get the very best care and treatments that I have ever received in the 20+ years that I’ve been dealing with severe debilitating migraines. Since i started seeing them the number of my migraines has dropped from 15-20 a month to 2-3 every 3 month. I highly recommend them …they will change your life!read more
Daneisha Johnson
Daneisha Johnson
22:20 19 May 22
Dr. Askari was very kind and explained everything so I could understand. The other staff were nice as well. I would... have gave 5 stars but I was a little taken aback when I checked in and had to pay 600.00 upfront. I think that should have been discussed in a appointment confirmation call or email just so I could have been prepared.read more
Jean Cooper
Jean Cooper
16:54 29 Apr 22
I love the office staff they are friendly and very helpful. Dr. JODIE is very caring and understanding to your needs... and wants to help you. I will go back. would recommend Dr. Dr. Jodie to other Patients in a heart beat. The team works well together.read more
Linda M
Linda M
19:40 02 Apr 22
I was obviously stressed, needing to see a neurologist. The staff was so patient and Dr. Ansari was so kind. At one... point he told me to relax, we have time, when I was relaying my history of my condition. That helped ease my stress. I have seen 3 other neurologists and he was the only one who performed any assessment tests on my cognitive and physical skills. At one point I couldn't complete two assessments and got upset and cried. I was told, it's OK. That's why you're here. I was truly impressed, and super pleased with the whole experience!read more
Leslie Durham
Leslie Durham
15:05 01 Apr 22
I've been coming here for about 5 years. The staff are ALWAYS friendly and knowledgeable. The Doctors are the absolute... best!! Jodie Moore is always in such a great mood which is a plus when you are already stressed. Highly recommendedread more
Monica Del Bosque
Monica Del Bosque
14:13 25 Mar 22
Since my first post my thoughts have changed here. It's unfortunate. My doctor and PA were great, but the office staff... is horrible. They never call you back when they say they will, they misinform you, they cause you too much stress wondering what's going on, they don't keep you posted. They never answer the phone. At this point I've left four messages in the last week, and I have sent three messages. Twice from their portal and one direct email. No response. My appointment is on Monday morning at 8:30am, no confirmation on my insurance and what's going on. What the heck is going on, this is ridiculous!I've given up... the stress her office staff has put me through is just not worth it. You can do so much better, please clean house, either change out your office staff, or find a way for them to be more efficient please. You have to do something. This is not how you want to run your practice. It leaves a very bad impression on your business.read more
Ron Buckholz
Ron Buckholz
23:32 23 Mar 22
I was actually pleasantly surprised with this visit! It took me a long time to get the appointment scheduled because no... one answers your phones EVER! After a month, I finally got in, and your staff was warm, friendly, and I was totally impressed! I feel like you will take care of my needs!read more
Steve Nabavi
Steve Nabavi
16:28 16 Mar 22
It was a nice visit. Happy staff doing all they can do to comfort the patients in a very calming environment. You ask... me they are earned a big gold star on the fridge. My only complaint they didn't give me any cookies.read more
Katie Lewis
Katie Lewis
16:10 10 Feb 22
Had very positive appointments with Jodie and Dr. Sheth for my migraine care. Jodie was so fast with the injections and... has so much valuable info. I started to feel light headed during checkout and the staff was SO helpful—giving me a chair, water, and taking me into a private room until I felt better. Highly recommend this practice for migraine patients, they know what they’re doing!!read more
Joshua Martinez
Joshua Martinez
16:02 10 Dec 21
I was scheduled to be checked and just want to say that the staff was fantastic. They were kind and helpful. I was... asked many questions related to what was going on and not once did I feel as though I was being brushed off. The front desk staff was especially great in assisting me. I'm scheduled to go back for a mri and am glad that I'll be going there.read more
Isabel Ivy
Isabel Ivy
21:42 03 Nov 21
I had such a good experience with Lone Star Neurology, Brent my MRI Tech was so awesome and made sure I was very... comfortable during the appointment. He gave me ear plugs, a pillow, leg support and blanket, easiest MRI ever lol 🤣 My 72 hour EEG nurse Amanda was also so awesome. She made sure I was take care of over the 3 days and took her time with the electrodes to make sure it was comfortable for me! Paige was also a huge help in answering all my questions when it came to my test results, and letting me know her honest opinions about how I should go forth with my treatment.read more
Leslie Luce
Leslie Luce
17:37 20 Oct 21
The professionalism and want to help attitude of this office was present from the moment I contacted them. The follow... up and follow through as well as their willingness to find a way to schedule my dad was above and beyond. We visited two offices in the same day with the same experience. I am appreciative of this—we spend a lot of time with doctors and this was top notch start to finish.read more
robert Parker
robert Parker
16:38 16 Apr 21
I love going to this office. The staff is friendly and helpful. The doctor is great. I am getting the best... neurological tests and treatment I have ever had. The only reason I did not give them a 5 star rating is because it is impossible to reach a live person at the office to reschedule appointments. Every time I have tried to get through to the office it says all people are busy and I am sent to a voicemail. If they could get their phone answering fixed, I would give them a strong 5 stars.read more
MaryAnn Hornbaker
MaryAnn Hornbaker
00:26 25 Feb 21
Dr. Harney is an excellent Dr. I found him friendly , personable and thorough. I evidently am an unusual case. ... Therefore he spent a Hugh amount of time educating me. He even gave me literature to further explain my condition and how to follow up. This is something you rarely get from your doctors. So I am more than please with my doctor and his staff.read more
Roger Arguello
Roger Arguello
03:05 29 Jan 21
Always courteous, professional. The staff is very friendly and always work with you to find the best appointment time.... The care team has been great. Always taking the time to listen to your concerns and to find the best treatment.read more
Margaret Rowland
Margaret Rowland
01:12 27 Jan 21
I have been a patient at Lone Star Neurology for several years. Now both my adult daughters also are patients there. I... love Jodie. She is always so prompt whether it is a teleamed call are a visit in the office. She takes the time to explain everything to me and answers all my questions. I am so blessed to have Jodie as my doctor.read more
Susan Miller
Susan Miller
03:01 13 Jan 21
My husband had an accident 5 years ago and Lone Star Neurology has been such a blessing to us with my husbands care.... Jodie Moore is his provider and she is amazing! Jodie is very knowledgeable, caring, and thorough. She takes her time with you, making sure your needs are met and she is happy to answer any questions you may have. Lone Star Neurology’s patients are very lucky to have Jodie providing their care. Thank you Lone Star Neurology and especially Jodie for everything you have done for us. Jodie, you are the best!read more
Windalyn C
Windalyn C
01:32 09 Jan 21
Jodie is wonderful. She is very caring and knowledgeable. I have been to over a dozen neurologists, and none were able... to help me as much as they have here. Thanks!read more
Katie Kordel
Katie Kordel
00:40 09 Jan 21
Jodi Moore, nurse practitioner, is amazing. I have suffered from frequent, debilitating headaches for almost 20 years.... She has provided the best proactive and responsive care I have ever received. My quality of life has been greatly improved by her caring approach and tenacity in finding solutions.read more
Ellie Natsis
Ellie Natsis
15:41 07 Jan 21
I have had the best experience at this neurologist's office! For over a year I have been receiving iv treatments here... each month and my nurse, Bobbie is beyond wonderful!! She's so attentive, knowledgeable, caring, and detail oriented. She makes an otherwise uncomfortable experience much more pleasant and definitely puts me at ease! She also helps me with my insurance,ordering this specialty medication and dealing with the ordering process which is no easy feat.Needless to say, she goes above a beyond in every way and I'm so grateful to this office and to Bobbie for all they do for me!read more
Matt Morris
Matt Morris
15:39 07 Jan 21
Let me start by saying that I have been coming here for years. Due to my autoimmune disease, I am in this office... once every three weeks for multiple hours at a time. The office is very clean and the staff very friendly. My only complaint would be there communication via phone. They aren't the best at responding if you leave a voicemail and expect a call back. I understand that this is prob just due to the sheer number of alls they receive daily. What I can say I like the best about the office are the people. Bobby who handles my infusions is great. I never have any issues with her setting up my infusions. She is very quick to reply to messages sent via text and if she were to leave then my whole opinion of the office may change. I also enjoy people like Matt, Lauren, and Jodi. I appreciate all that they do for me and without this team I'm not sure I would be as happy as I am to visit the office as frequently as I have to. Please ensure that these folks are recognized as they are what makes my visit to this office so tolerable :).read more
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