Dr. M.J. Bazos,
WHAT ARE MYOPATHIES?
Autoimmune myopathies are a group
of diseases that involve inflammation of the muscles and may be associated with
diseases of internal organs. Diseases affecting muscles include polymyositis,
dermatomyositis and inclusion body myositis. The main symptom is muscle weakness
in the upper arms, upper legs and neck, muscle pain, fatigue, joint pain and
swelling, rashes over the face and knuckles, fevers, swallowing difficulty and
shortness of breath.
cause of myopathies is unknown, but environmental factors (such as viral
infections) and genetic predisposition are felt to be important in some
- Only about 1 new case per 100,000 is diagnosed
- Myopathies occur two to three times more
frequently in women than men.
- Severity of disease varies from a mild form with
almost no symptoms to a severe, life-threatening disease.
is attained through a history and physical exam, certain laboratory tests,
muscle biopsy and electromyography (a study of the electrical activity of
muscle). Other diseases or conditions such as hypothyroidism, toxin exposure,
drug reactions and genetic disorders may also affect muscles and need to be
complex diseases can involve many body organs and, while not curable, many of
the symptoms can be treated effectively with patient education, physical and
occupational therapy, and medications. Medications may include corticosteroids
and immunosuppressive drugs (drugs that keep the immune system from attacking
its own body), such as methotrexate and
RHEUMATOLOGIST’S ROLE IN TREATING
specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of myopathies. Researchers play a
critical role in both basic science and clinical investigation of the disease.
Rheumatologists educate other physicians about the disease and its treatment.
Association of America's Web site at:www.myositis.org