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What Are the Symptoms of Myositis? Types and Treatment

Myositis means swelling and redness of the muscles.

Myositis means swelling and redness of the muscles. Weakness is the dominant symptom of myositis. The symptoms of myositis usually develop gradually and may include:

  • Difficulty in getting up from a chair
  • Trouble in climbing stairs or lifting arms
  • Tired feeling after standing and walking
  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • Muscle pain and soreness that seems to linger for a few weeks
  • Elevations in muscle enzymes
  • Fatigue (exhaustion)
  • Frequent falls
  • A general feeling of being unwell
  • Weight loss
  • A red or pink rash present on the upper eyelids, face, and neck, and on the backs of the hands and fingers in a few cases of infectious myositis or autoimmune myositis
  • Swelling of the affected skin
  • Puffiness and purplish coloring around the eyes

Symptoms may vary according to the causes of myositis, which include:

Infectious myositis: The most common symptoms of infectious myositis is caused by flu or a virus and include:

  • High fever
  • Severe swelling and pain over the affected muscle
  • Inability to move the affected body part
  • Chills
  • Sore throat 
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Runny nose

If infectious myositis is caused by trichinosis, symptoms, along with the aforementioned ones, may also include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Eye redness

Benign acute myositis: Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Severe leg pain
  • Trouble walking
  • Fever
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Upper respiratory symptoms

Myositis ossificans: You may notice a lump in the affected muscle. The mass may hurt when you press it. It usually happens several weeks after a muscle injury or bruising.

Drug-induced myositis: The symptoms start as soon as you take a new drug or a combination of drugs. The symptoms include:

  • Muscle soreness
  • Pain
  • Weakness

Apart from these symptoms, many other conditions that affect a myositis patient include:

  • Inflammatory arthritis (pain and swelling of joints that gets worse with inactivity)
  • Interstitial lung disease (inflammatory lung disease, causing cough and shortness of breath)
  • Mechanic’s hands (thickening of the skin on the sides of the finger)
  • Raynaud’s phenomenon (abrupt, episodic decrease in blood flow to one or several fingers causing discomfort in the fingers)
  • Nail bed/cuticle inflammation (redness or pain along the nail beds)

Some other medical conditions that may have similar symptoms as myositis include:

  • Low vitamin D levels
  • Hormonal disorders, such as overactive thyroid glands
  • Infections
  • Side effects of extreme alcoholism
  • Side effects of certain medications, such as steroids and statins
  • Abnormal calcium or magnesium level
  • Muscle wasting

What are the different types of myositis?

Myositis means inflammation or redness of the muscle. The inflammation damages the fibers of a muscle. Damaging the fibers weakens them by interfering with the ability of the muscles to contract.

The different types of myositis include:

  • Idiopathic inflammatory myopathies: The exact cause of this type of muscle inflammation is unknown (idiopathic). These may be seen if the body produces proteins against its own muscle cells. There are three types of idiopathic inflammatory myositis:
    • Dermatomyositis
    • Polymyositis
    • Inclusion body myositis
  • Infectious myositis: It sometimes occurs after an infection. Some of the common causes of infectious myositis include:
    • Trichinosis (parasite)
    • Staphylococcus bacteria
    • Adenovirus
    • Cytomegalovirus
    • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
  • Benign acute myositis: It generally occurs in children and occurs suddenly after flu or some respiratory infection. Though the symptoms may be daunting, it usually disappears within a few days.
  • Myositis ossificans: It is seen after a trauma or accident. In this type of muscle inflammation, a lump of bony material forms inside a muscle.
  • Drug-induced myositis: In this type, muscle inflammation occurs as a side effect of a medication or a combination of medicines. It is most commonly seen after taking HIV drugs or antiviral therapy.


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How is myositis treated?

Treatment of myositis depends on the cause of the muscle inflammation.

  • Idiopathic inflammatory myopathies: The physician usually begins treatment with:
    • Corticosteroid drugs such as prednisone or methylprednisolone
    • Immunosuppressant drugs such as cyclosporine, mycophenolate mofetil, or cyclophosphamide in severe cases
  • Infectious myositis: The physician usually prescribes
    • Antivirals to treat a viral infection.
    • Antifungals to kill trichinosis parasites.
    • Antibiotics to treat bacterial infection.
    • Plenty of rest and drink plenty of fluids.
  • Benign acute myositis: The physician may prescribe pain killers to treat pain.
  • Myositis ossificans: The physician may recommend surgery to remove the lump if it doesn’t disappear within few days.
  • Drug-induced myositis: The physician will discontinue the drug, causing muscle inflammation.

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Medically Reviewed on 3/4/2021


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