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Myositis: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment


Myositis, a group of rare autoimmune diseases characterised by muscle inflammation, presents unique challenges and complexities for both patients and healthcare providers. Understanding its diverse manifestations, from weakness and fatigue to skin rashes, is crucial for accurate diagnosis and effective management.

In this blog, we delve into the intricacies of myositis, exploring its symptoms, diagnosis, treatment options, and the latest research advancements. By unravelling the mysteries surrounding myositis, we aim to empower patients with knowledge and provide healthcare professionals with valuable insights into this often misunderstood condition.

What is Myositis?

Myositis, an immune system disorder, induces chronic muscle inflammation, leading to weakness and pain. It falls under myopathy, affecting skeletal muscles, including those in the arms, legs, abdomen, and spine. Some experience weakness in the eyes, oesophagus, or diaphragm.

Its cause remains uncertain, with no cure available. Treatment focuses on symptom management and exercise. Seek medical help for weakness, mobility issues, or respiratory distress.

What are the Types of Myositis?

A healthcare provider diagnoses myositis based on symptoms and affected muscle locations. Forms of myositis include:


  • Affects multiple muscles, commonly those near the body’s center. Develops gradually, primarily in adults, more prevalent in women.
  • Symptoms include difficulty standing, climbing stairs, lifting objects, and reaching overhead.


  • Affects skin and muscles, with varying onset times. Early treatment is crucial to prevent severe complications or fatality.
  • Can increase cancer risk, particularly within the first year.

Inclusion Body Myositis         

  • Degenerative muscle disease, typically affecting those over 50. It causes weakness in extremities and swallowing difficulties, with around 30% developing dysphagia.  
  • Symptoms may include difficulty with precise tasks, gripping, walking, standing, and swallowing.

What are the Symptoms of Myositis?

Symptoms of myositis encompass:

  • Weakness in muscles.
  • Pain in joints or muscles.
  • Fatigue.
  • Swelling.
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing.
  • Arrhythmia (in cases where myositis impacts the heart).

During symptomatic episodes, movement or usual activities might pose challenges. Increased fatigue or a sense of loss of control over limbs may be experienced.

Various forms of myositis manifest distinct symptoms. Your healthcare provider will outline anticipated symptoms and their specific manifestations for your condition.

You Can Also Read: Raynaud’s Disease: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Management

What are the Causes of Myositis?

The exact cause of myositis remains uncertain according to experts. While it can manifest independently, it is sometimes precipitated by underlying health conditions.

Myositis is categorised as an autoimmune disorder, wherein the immune system mistakenly targets the body rather than safeguarding it. The reasons behind this misdirection are not fully understood. 

Some individuals are more predisposed to developing myositis due to their autoimmune conditions, like: 

  • Lupus
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Scleroderma

Additionally, some individuals may experience myositis following a viral infection such as:

  • The common cold
  • Influenza (the flu)
  • HIV

What are the Complications of Myositis?

Muscle inflammation is the hallmark of myositis, which can lead to several problems, including:

  • Muscle weakness and impaired mobility
  • Dysphagia due to inflamed swallowing muscles
  • Respiratory compromise or failure in severe cases
  • Contractures from prolonged inflammation
  • Calcifications, particularly in inclusion body myositis
  • Chronic pain and fatigue affecting daily life
  • Skin issues like rashes in dermatomyositis
  • Systemic complications in autoimmune-related myositis
  • Treatment side effects such as infections and bone loss.

Management involves a multidisciplinary approach, including rheumatologists and physical therapists, to minimise risks and enhance quality of life. Regular medical care is crucial for monitoring and addressing potential complications effectively.

How is Myositis Diagnosed?

People with myositis often receive misdiagnosis due to the rarity of the condition and the similarity of its primary symptoms to those of other common diseases, such as muscle weakness and fatigue.

To aid in the diagnosis, physicians may utilise a combination of the following methods:

  • Physical examinations
  • Muscle biopsies
  • Electromyography
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Nerve conduction studies
  • Blood tests to assess CPK levels
  • Antinuclear antibody blood tests
  • Myositis-specific antibody panel blood tests
  • Genetic testing

You Can Also Read: Prone to Frequent Lower Back Pain? 7 Things to Know About Ankylosing Spondylitis

What is the Treatment for Myositis?

Myositis has no known cure. Instead, your healthcare provider will focus on managing your symptoms to minimise their interference with your daily life. The aim is to alleviate your symptoms until the myositis enters a state of remission, characterised by minimal or no inflammation in your muscles. Common treatments for myositis encompass:

  1. Corticosteroids.
  2. Immunosuppressants.
  3. Intravenous immunoglobulin.

Additionally, your healthcare provider or physical therapist will prescribe stretches and exercises tailored to maintain flexibility and strength in your affected muscles. This proactive approach can help alleviate pain and stiffness and mitigate the impact of future episodes.


Myositis presents a complex array of symptoms, requiring personalised treatment approaches. Awareness, early detection, and interdisciplinary care are pivotal in managing this condition effectively and improving patients’ quality of life. It is always advisable to seek medical help from an experienced rheumatologist. Timely care and help can ensure an appropriate diagnosis and treatment of your condition. 

At the CK Birla Hospital, we ensure patients get holistic medical support which includes treatment in a compassionate environment. This patient-centric approach not only helps patients heal better but also ensures they are aware of the preventive measures as well. In case you need to consult a rheumatologist, reach out to us, or book a direct appointment at the CK Birla Hospital. (Booking Link).


Can Myositis Affect Children?

Myositis can affect children, although it’s relatively rare. Juvenile dermatomyositis (JDM) is the most common form, causing muscle weakness and skin rash, often requiring medical intervention.

Is Myositis Contagious?

Myositis is not contagious. It’s an autoimmune condition where the body’s immune system attacks its muscles, leading to inflammation and weakness.

Can Myositis Lead to Disability?

Yes, myositis can lead to disability, especially if left untreated or if severe muscle damage occurs. Proper management, including medication and therapy, can help minimise disability.

Are There Specific Triggers That Worsen Myositis Symptoms?

Certain triggers like infections, stress, overexertion, and exposure to certain medications or environmental factors can worsen myositis symptoms by exacerbating inflammation and muscle weakness.

How Often Should Patients With Myositis Have Follow-up Appointments?

Patients with myositis should typically have regular follow-up appointments every few months to monitor their condition, adjust treatment as needed, and address any emerging symptoms or concerns.

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