Definition and causes of Polymyositis and Dermatomyositis
Polymyositis is a connective tissue disease, which affects the striated muscles. The muscles most often affected are the shoulder and muscles in the buttocks, which become inflamed and gradually weaken. If there concomitant skin infection the condition is called dermatomyositis.
The symptoms curiously appear in completely different parts of the body than the muscle inflammation. There may be a reddish or purple rash of the face, on the shoulders, arms, over the knuckles or over other skin covering the skeleton. The disease also causes general malaise and in addition to weakening of the muscles pain.
Dermatomyositis is a serious, but rare disease. It affects women three times as often as men. An examination includes blood analysis and recording of electrical activity of the muscles or electromyelografi. Furthermore a muscle biopsy is performed, taking a tissue sample of the muscle for examination under microscope.
Treatment and outlook
The odds for full recovery are relatively good. The disease tends to burn out within a few years. Meanwhile the treatment is directed towards relief of the symptoms.
Large doses of corticosteroids and other antiinflammatory remedies including immuno suppressive treatment may be employed. In addition the muscle weakening may be halted by active physiotherapy.
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