Polymyositis is a rare type of inflammatory muscle disease that results in muscle weakness affecting both sides of the body. It inflames the muscles and related tissues and blood vessels that supply them. This condition can make it hard for a person to climb stairs, get up from a seated position, lift objects or reach overhead.

It mostly affects adults in middle age and common in women than men. Generally, signs and symptoms develop over weeks or months. Though there is no cure for polymyositis, treatment can help improve muscle strength and function.


The exact cause of polymyositis is not clear; however, the condition shares several traits with autoimmune disorders, in which the immune system mistakenly attacks your body's healthy cells and tissues.

Also Read: Muscle Weakness: Know About the Underlying Causes And Treatment Options

Symptoms Of Polymyositis

Some of the symptoms of polymyositis include:

Muscle weakness: It is one of the common symptoms and the muscles involved are the ones nearest to the trunk of the system. The onset of weakness is gradual, developing over 3 to 6 months.

  • Find it hard to get up from chairs, climb stairs or lift objects. A few people may also have discomfort with getting up after lying down.
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Muscle aches and muscles would be very tender to touch
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rashes around the eyes, some people may also have red skin over the knuckles, elbow, and knees or red rash on the neck and chest
  • Weight loss

Also Read: Muscle Strain: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

Risk Factors

The risk of developing polymyositis is higher if a person suffers from lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma or Sjogren’s syndrome.


Difficulty Swallowing: When the muscles in the oesophagus are affected, you may have issues swallowing (dysphagia), this, in turn, can cause weight loss and malnutrition.

Aspiration Pneumonia: Dysphagia may also lead to breathing food or liquids, including salvia into the lungs (aspiration), which eventually leads to pneumonia.

Breathing Problems: When the chest muscles are affected by the disease, you may have breathing issues including shortness of breath or in severe cases, respiratory failure.


If your healthcare provider suspects that you might have polymyositis, then he may suggest the following tests

Blood Tests: Blood work will let the doctor know if you have high levels of muscle enzymes, which can reveal muscle damage, Further, blood tests can also detect specific autoantibodies linked with polymyositis, which can help in evaluating the best medication and treatment.

Electromyography: Electrical activity is checked as you relax or tighten the muscle, and any changes in the pattern of electrical impulse can confirm the diagnosis. Also, the doctor can determine the distribution of the disease by testing different muscles.

 Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): This scan can produce cross-sectional images of muscle through data made by a strong magnetic field and radio waves.

Muscle Biopsy: In this test, a small piece of muscle tissue is surgically removed and sent for analysis. This procedure may reveal abnormalities like inflammation, damage, presence of protein or enzyme deficiencies.


Though there is no complete cure for polymyositis, treatment can immensely improve muscle strength and function. The earlier treatment is started, the more effective is outcome-resulting in lesser complications

The healthcare provider will tailor treatment strategy based on symptoms and how well patients respond to therapy.

Certain medications are prescribed to treat polymyositis.


Depending upon the severity of the condition, the doctor may suggest:

Physical Therapy: To maintain and uplift the strength and flexibility and suggest the right level of activity for the patient, as per their condition.

Speech Therapy: If the swallowing muscles are weak, then speech therapy can help learn ways to compensate for those changes

Diet: Chewing and swallowing food may become tougher in the course of the disease. A certified dietitian can help the patient to plan and make easy-to-eat wholesome foods.