What is Inflammatory Muscle Disease?

Myopathy is the medical term for muscle disease. These occur when the body’s immune system attacks muscles. This type of disease damages muscle tissue and makes muscles weak, as well as causing rashes and sometimes breathing problems. Examples include polymyositis and dermatomyositis.


People with inflammatory myopathies may have these features:

  • Weakness in the large muscles around the neck, upper arms, hips and trunk.
  • Trouble climbing stairs, getting up from a seat, or reaching for objects overhead
  • Little, if any, pain in the muscles
  • Choking while eating or aspiration (intake) of food into the lungs
  • Shortness of breath and cough


While there is no cure for myopathies, treatment is often effective, depending on an accurate diagnosis. Some of the most common treatments are:

  • Corticosteroids
  • Combination treatment (methotrexateor azathioprine), which gives better long-range control of the disease and helps avoid long-term side effects of corticosteroids.
  • Immune treatments such as Rituximab, IVIG or other immune suppressants may be used
  • Physical therapy and exercise including range of motion and strengthening