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What Is Polymyositis?

An autoimmune disease that brings on chronic muscle weakness and inflammation, long-term, untreated polymyositis can diminish the ability to walk. Though it can affect anyone, it is most common in children between the ages of 5 and 15 and women, ages 50 to 70.

Currently, there is no known cause for polymyositis, despite research suggesting there is a genetic component involved. Should polymyositis be present, other conditions often are as well, including:


Because polymyositis causes muscle weakness, symptoms primarily involve the muscles. However, other symptoms may arise as well. Typical symptoms include:

  • Cough — Polymyositis may bring about a chronic dry cough.
  • Loss of balance — An increase in falling and difficulty getting back up after a fall often occur.
  • Muscle weakness — Though occasionally found in fingers or toes, weakness is normally found in muscles located near the body’s center, such as the thighs and hips, shoulders and neck, forearms, and back.
  • Swallowing issues — In the event polymyositis affects muscles in the neck, swallowing can become difficult, which is known as dysphagia.

Treatment Options

Diagnosis of polymyositis utilizes strength tests and may include blood tests or a MRI screening. Some treatment options are:

  • Medications — Corticosteroids decrease muscle inflammation and immunosuppressant medications help the immune system stop attacking the body and causing inflammation.
  • Therapies — To prevent and recover atrophied muscles, exercise under the guidance of a physical therapist is prescribed. Applying heating pads to pained areas (heat therapy) may also help affected muscles. 

Ready for an Appointment?

If you're experiencing signs or symptoms of polymyositis, schedule an appointment or call 800-TEMPLE-MED (800-836-7536) today.

Learn more about our doctors and care team who diagnose and treat polymyositis.