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Myositis

As one of the nation’s leading centers for rheumatic diseases, including myositis, the Rheumatology Program at UT Southwestern Medical Center combines expert care with the latest medical resources.

 Our specialists provide thorough evaluations to develop safe, evidence-based treatment plans for people with all types of myositis, a rare autoimmune disorder that causes muscle inflammation and weakness.

Advanced Treatment for Myositis

Myositis is a rare group of conditions causing chronic inflammation in muscles that worsens over time. Although most people recover from myositis with treatment, the condition can lead to more serious complications such as cancer, heart disease, and lung disease.

As scientists at the forefront of rheumatology research, our specialists bring the latest treatments from the lab to the bedside for our patients. We provide expert, compassionate care to manage myositis and help patients live a full and active life.

Types of Myositis

Myositis has five types:

  • Dermatomyositis involves purplish-red skin rashes on the face, neck, chest, back, and some joints.
  • Polymyositis causes muscle weakness in the shoulder/hip girdle that spreads from its point of origin.
  • Toxic myositis also involves muscle weakness and skin rashes and is thought to result from certain illicit drugs and prescription medications.
  • Inclusion-body myositis causes muscle weakness in the wrists, fingers, and thighs, and one side of the body is usually affected more than the other.
  • Juvenile myositis develops in children under age 18, causing skin rashes and muscle weakness.

Causes of Myositis

The causes of myositis are not well understood, but experts believe it might result from an autoimmune disorder, in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s own tissues. Other possible causes include injuries or viral infections caused by cold, flu, or HIV.

Symptoms of Myositis

Symptoms vary among the types of myositis, but some common symptoms include:

  • Skin rashes
  • Muscle weakness and pain
  • Fatigue, particularly after walking or standing
  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • Tendency to trip or fall

Diagnosing Myositis

For people who have symptoms of myositis, rheumatologists at UT Southwestern conduct a thorough evaluation, which includes a:

  • Physical exam
  • Discussion of personal and family medical history
  • Discussion of symptoms and risk factors

The key symptoms of myositis – muscle weakness and skin rashes – are common to many conditions. To confirm a diagnosis and rule out other causes, our doctors might recommend one or more tests, such as:

  • Muscle or skin biopsy (small tissue sample) to check for abnormalities
  • Electromyography to check the health of muscles and the nerves that control them
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan to provide detailed images of muscles to look for abnormalities
  • Nerve conduction study to assess how fast electrical signals move through a nerve
  • Blood tests to evaluate levels of certain muscle enzymes and check for autoimmune disorders

Treatment for Myositis

For myositis, the primary treatment is corticosteroid medication (pills) to reduce muscle inflammation and relieve symptoms. Depending on each patient’s particular case, our doctors might prescribe immunosuppressant medications to reduce the strength of the immune system.

Other recommendations to strengthen muscles and improve flexibility include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Exercise
  • Stretching
  • Yoga

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