Polymyositis is an autoimmune disorder that causes muscle inflammation, leading to acute or chronic muscle pain, weakness, and range of motion problems. It is a serious but rare condition that is not well understood by doctors. There is currently no cure for polymyositis, but most patients can find relief from their problems by following careful polymyositis treatment plans. It is essential to work closely with a doctor to determine the best individualized treatment. In most cases, polymyositis treatment consists of several months of corticosteroid use, rest, and physical therapy.
A person who is diagnosed with polymyositis should speak with his or her doctors at length about different treatment options and the risks and benefits of each. The condition generally responds best to oral steroids taken daily for at least three months. Patients are usually given large initial doses of an anti-inflammatory medication to be taken two to four times per day for the first two weeks. The dosage amount is gradually decreased over the next ten weeks as long as symptoms start getting better. Some patients with recurring or persistent muscle pain need to take low-dose steroids indefinitely to find relief.
Depending on the severity of symptoms, a doctor may add other drugs to a polymyositis treatment regimen. Immunosuppressants such as methotrexate and azathioprine can help to stop the immune system from eliciting inflammatory responses. Some patients also receive injections of synthetic antibodies called immunoglobulins that counter immune system overactivity.
Getting plenty of rest and staying hydrated are important parts of an early polymyositis treatment plan. Most patients who have significant pains are instructed to avoid strenuous activity for several days or weeks to give their muscles time to heal. Heat therapy and gentle massage can be effective at relieving acute aches and pains while a patient is resting. In addition, drinking plenty of water and sports drinks that contain electrolytes may help to replenish nutrients and avoid dehydration during the resting period.
While rest is essential to start the healing process, a very long period of inactivity can actually be detrimental. Muscles may start to atrophy if they are not used. Once a person starts feeling better, he or she can begin light stretching exercises to prevent muscle wasting. Many patients are scheduled for regular physical therapy sessions where a licensed professional can help them establish safe, effective exercise routines. People who stick to their polymyositis treatment plans generally have good outcomes with less risk of recurring problems.