Myositis or muscle inflammation can be hereditary or caused by various pathogens. Infections, immune disorders, parasites, viruses, bacteria or toxins can trigger such muscle inflammation. This complicates both the diagnosis and the therapy of myositis.
What is muscle inflammation?
Muscle inflammation or myositis refers to all inflammatory diseases of the muscles of the human skeleton. There are different forms of myositis. The main ones are known as polymyositis, inclusion body myositis, or dermatomyositis. See electronicsmatter for Broken Jaw Definition.
However, myositis can also be triggered by various bacterial or viral pathogens or infections as well as by muscle injuries. Myositis also sometimes occurs for hereditary reasons, such as Münchmeyer syndrome. It can also occur as a result of exposure to poison. Myositis is a relatively rare disease in our latitudes.
Inclusion body myositis is most common in adults over 50 years of age. However, dermatomyositis occurs more frequently in the general population. Interestingly, both forms of myositis occur primarily in childhood and adolescence and then again after midlife.
Such muscle inflammation can be accompanied by muscle weakness in certain areas of the body, skin disorders or swallowing problems. The course of a myositis can be quite treatable. However, myositis can also progress and require long-term hospital treatment.
Myositis, which is caused by certain parasites and bacterial or viral pathogens, is rarely encountered in our latitudes. Muscle inflammation occurs much more frequently when an inflammatory system disease is present.
Inflammatory rheumatic diseases or connective tissue diseases can also lead to muscle inflammation. In polymyositis and also in dermatomyositis, an autoimmune disease is assumed to be the cause of the muscle inflammation. Inclusion body myositis, on the other hand, is attributed to degenerative and inflammatory processes.
Typically, elevated levels of certain inflammatory parameters and enzymes are often found in patients with myositis. However, these enzymes are not the cause of myositis. They are formed in the muscle fibers and are increasingly released as a result of the muscle inflammation. Therefore, these enzymes can serve as diagnostic tools to detect myositis.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
The clinical spectrum of myositis is quite comprehensive and ranges from mild joint pain to neurological symptoms, depending on the form and severity. In the early stages of the disease, patients with polymyositis mainly complain of non-specific symptoms such as tiredness and exhaustion.
Fever can also occur. A characteristic symptom of polymyositis is a soreness-like feeling in the muscles of the arms and legs. This pain occurs regardless of whether the patient has moved a lot or little. Many patients also complain of pronounced muscle weakness. This always occurs progressively and symmetrically, i.e. on both sides of the body.
People with myositis find it difficult to raise their arms or have restricted movement of their legs and head. In both polymyositis and dermatomyositis, the function of internal organs can be impaired in addition to the muscles. If the striated muscles of the larynx and/or lungs are affected by the disease, difficulty swallowing and shortness of breath occur.
In dermatomyositis, there are various skin symptoms in addition to the muscular impairments. These can vary in intensity and in some cases even be completely absent.
Course of the disease
Diagnosis must be carried out before treating myositis. With an electrical voltage measurement, a muscle biopsy or electroneurography one can get on the track of myositis as well as by measuring the enzyme values in the muscle fibers.
The fact that muscle inflammation – depending on the form – can develop over months or years makes it difficult to diagnose myositis. It is now known that patients with dermatomyositis develop malignant or malignant tumors more frequently. Necrosis or immigrated inflammatory cells can provide important information about the course of the disease.
Each form of myositis has its own diagnostic criteria. Nonetheless, it is difficult to identify. The course of the disease is insidious and is often only noticed at an advanced stage. In addition, diseases such as muscular dystrophy can complicate the diagnosis.
Muscle inflammation can cause various complications. Initially, myositis leads to symptoms such as body aches, fatigue, fever and loss of appetite, which worsen general well-being and can result in dehydration or nutrient deficiencies. Prolonged illness is often associated with being bedridden. The associated immobility can trigger depressive moods and cause eczema and inflammation in older patients.
Sometimes the muscle inflammation can spread to surrounding areas of the body and cause serious complications. For example, if it spreads to the ankle, it can encapsulate and eventually stiffen. If muscle inflammation is not treated, it will progressively get worse. This can lead to muscle damage and even paralysis as a result.
If the affected muscle can then no longer be moved as it used to be, this can promote mental health problems. Treating muscle inflammation also carries risks. The prescribed antibiotics and cortisone preparations can cause side effects such as diarrhea and skin irritation. Intolerance can lead to joint pain, serious intestinal diseases and depression. Paralysis and muscle injuries can cause hardening, which can lead to tissue damage if not treated properly.
When should you go to the doctor?
Intense sport or other physical activity can lead to pain or a decrease in the usual performance. Normally, no doctor’s visit is necessary. If the symptoms reduce within a few hours or after a restful night’s sleep, no doctor is needed. With sufficient rest and protection, the organism uses the time for a necessary regeneration. A freedom from symptoms is then expected after a short time.
If pain or other discomfort occurs with normal everyday movements, a doctor should be consulted. If the symptoms persist for several days or weeks or if they increase in intensity, a doctor’s visit is advisable. A doctor should be consulted if there are signs such as a restriction in general mobility, tiredness, increased body temperature or reduced physical resilience. If there is inner irritation, a protective posture of the body or a crooked posture, a doctor’s visit is recommended. Changes in the complexion, sensitivity to pressure or increased sensitivity to temperature influences must be examined and treated.
Breathing impairments are of particular concern. If symptoms occur during the natural act of swallowing or if breathing is difficult, the symptoms should be evaluated by a doctor immediately. In these cases, the muscle problems lead to an impairment of the organ activity of the lungs and must be treated medically.
Treatment & Therapy
Depending on the form and severity of the muscle inflammation, you have to treat it differently. The administration of high-dose cortisone preparations has proven to be the standard treatment for muscle inflammation of the dermatomyositis or polymyositis type.
Depending on the type of myositis, the symptoms improve and the cortisone can be reduced after a few weeks. Sometimes the course of myositis cannot be positively influenced even with cortisone. So-called immunosuppressants or globulins are then used. They suppress the immune system in its overreactions.
Patients with inclusion body myositis are treated with physical therapy or occupational therapy. However, the course of this myositis often requires treatment in a clinic that specializes in neuromuscular diseases. In the case of paralysis or muscle injuries, hardening can occur, which necessitates a more specific treatment of the myositis.
Outlook & Forecast
The prognosis for muscle inflammation depends on the cause, the type of treatment and the duration of the inflammation. No uniform statements can be made on this.
If, for example, autoimmune diseases are responsible for the muscle inflammation, weeks of therapy are usually necessary to bring about an improvement. In addition, such causal diseases are always chronic, which is why lifelong therapy is necessary on the one hand and recurrence of the myositis is possible on the other. In such cases, the prognosis is all the better if those affected can keep their muscles healthy for a long time thanks to good exercise and well-adjusted medication.
If local infections or other inflammations are the trigger, the success of the therapy determines the prognosis. It can sometimes take several weeks before there is any improvement at all. The problem with muscle inflammation is not the pain, but the failure symptoms that occur later. The muscles can be undersupplied or atrophy as part of an inflammation. Avoiding movement because of pain also leads to muscle wasting.
It is true that those affected are often weakened after surviving myositis and need exercise therapy to rebuild the muscles. However, muscle damage as a result of acute myositis is considered to be easily reversible.
It is practically impossible to prevent the development of myositis . While one can protect oneself to some degree from viral, bacterial, or parasitic pathogens, other circumstances could still cause myositis. There is nothing that can be done preventively against an autoimmune disease or toxic myositis.
The disease myositis requires lifelong treatment, as it is not curable according to the current scientific knowledge. The aim of the aftercare is to inhibit the inflammation and minimize the weakening of the muscles and to maintain the mobility of the affected skeletal muscles.
This requires a follow-up check, the scope of which depends on the extent of the symptoms. Doctor and patient make regular appointments. In these, the required prescriptions for drugs such as cortisone and immunosuppressants as well as for physiotherapy and occupational therapy are issued. Rehabilitation is often ordered immediately after diagnosis.
Under professional guidance, the patient learns what consequences myositis has for his life and how he can counteract them. However, for successful measures, the inflammation must have healed as much as possible. A follow-up examination always includes a discussion about the complaints. Especially the professional and private everyday life can be provided with great difficulties.
Possible offers of help will be discussed if necessary. In addition, a blood test takes place, which can be used to determine inflammation parameters. This allows the doctor to document the progress of the disease and adjust the therapy if necessary. The success of the treatment depends to a large extent on the patient’s willingness to cooperate. A long period of rest often leads to a loss of muscle function.
You can do that yourself
Muscle inflammation usually requires comprehensive medical treatment. Alongside this, the patient can take a number of measures to alleviate the symptoms.
First, the affected muscle should be rested. In the case of severe pain, warm pads and accompanying measures such as soothing teas or gentle massages are recommended. A bandage can also contribute to a speedy recovery. Physiotherapy and ergotherapy are important components of therapy. The patient can support these measures at home with moderate exercise and individual exercises. The type of workout is best determined in consultation with a sports medicine specialist. If the muscle inflammation is accompanied by paralysis, muscle injuries or hardening, further measures must be taken. Drug therapy is usually started, supported by massages and alternative methods from Chinese medicine. Acupuncture can also be used in consultation with the doctor.
Muscle inflammation usually heals within a few days to weeks. If the symptoms persist for a longer period of time, treatment in a clinic may be necessary. Those affected should inform the doctor of any symptoms and suggest a change in drug administration in the event of side effects or interactions with the prescribed medication.