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Myopathy - Medical Malpractice
If you have myopathy, you have some kind of muscle disease. Muscle diseases are associated with pain in the affected area and weakness of the muscle. Inflammation of the muscle or muscles is called myositis. There are many different causes of myopathy and it requires a careful examination and sometimes a muscle biopsy to decide what kind of myopathy is going on. There are three main types of muscle disorders: chronic myositis, inclusion body muscle disease, and dermatomyositis.
The inflammation in a myopathy can be due to an allergic reaction to a drug or due to exposure to toxic substances. Cancers can cause myopathy as can rheumatic diseases, infectious diseases and viral illnesses. Some cases of chronic myopathy are completely idiopathic and doctors don't know what causes them. Many are thought to be autoimmune disorders, where the body fights off parts of its own tissues, including muscles. Bones, joints and muscles can be affected by autoimmune diseases as can blood vessels and nervous tissue.
There are myopathies that affect primarily children and myopathies that affect mainly adults. In children, the most common type of myopathy is dermatomyositis. Women get myositis and myopathy far more commonly than men. If you have inclusion body myositis, you are most likely older than the age of 50 years.
Myopathy has several different signs and symptoms. The exact symptoms depend on the type of myopathy a person has. Most result in a progressive muscle weakness that is slow in nature. It starts in the most proximal muscles and spreads out from the center of the body. Other symptoms include fatigue after walking, tripping and falling and generalized fatigue. You can even have swallowing, chewing or breathing problems with myositis, which can be dangerous. The muscles are often sore to the touch.
Polymyositis affects the skeletal muscles and is an inflammation of these muscles. It is found in adults between the ages of 30 and 60. Speaking can be affected, as can climbing stairs, swallowing, rising from a chair or walking around. You can easily feel arthritic changes and shortness of breath, even at rest.
Dermatomyositis has two main features: a myositis-like disease and a rash that can accompany or even precede the development of the disorder. The rash is on the joints, knuckles, eyelids, toes, elbows and knees. The rash is purplish red and can be swollen. There can be systemic signs of fever, inflammation of muscles and joints, lung inflammation and sensitivity to light. Tumours can develop in the female genitals, the breast, lung and bowel. You can get calcium deposits beneath the skin, which is called calcinosis. Childhood dermatomyositis has these features more commonly than the adult form of the condition.
There is progressive muscle weakness and wasting in inclusion body myositis. It happens in both distal and proximal muscle groups. One side of the body can be affected or both sides can be affected. It results in frequent falling episodes because the distal muscles are affected. Half of all patients with inclusion body disease have swallowing difficulties and you can see it in both males and females equally.
Myositis in children affects those between 2 and 15 years of age. The proximal muscles are affected first and there is often body swelling of the entire body, fatigue, fever, abdominal pain and rashes. The tendons can contract yielding limited mobility of the extremities. Many of these children also have calcinosis.
Diagnosis of myositis is made by a blood test showing elevated CPK levels, which is a muscle enzyme released when muscles are damaged. You can do imaging with an MRI exam to show wasting of muscles and a muscle biopsy is the definitive test for the disease. Skin biopsies can be positive in situations of dermatomyositis.
Myositis and dermatomyositis can be managed but are not curable. Patients undergo physical therapy, occupational therapy, exercises, heat therapy and use orthotic devices to help manage their disease. Some medications can control spasticity and pain. If medications or toxins are causing the disease, these things must be removed from the body. Steroids are used to block inflammation and control the pain and swelling sometimes noted with the disease. Weakness is better with corticosteroid use as well.LEGAL HELPLINE: ☎ 855 804 7125
The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here