5 Things You Need to Know About Inflammatory Muscle Disease

1. Not Your Ordinary Muscle Aches

Inflammatory muscle disease is a group of muscular disorders, the majority of which can fall into the category of auto-immune disorders. This type of disorder occurs when the body is somehow triggered to literally attack its own tissues. It is generally unknown what stimulates this triggering mechanism. Two well known examples of this type of disorder are Myasthenia Gravis, and Muscular Dystrophy.
Inflammatory muscle diseases typically affect the muscles of the skeleton, which are responsible for such things as walking, balance, breathing and even speaking. In some cases, swallowing can be seriously affected.

2. The Root Cause

What exactly causes inflammatory disease is not generally known. What is known, however, is that it can affect men and women equally, and at virtually any age. It can show up as associated symptoms to another condition or disease such as diabetes or thyroid disease. Infections such as trichinosis (from under-cooked pork), influenza and HIV can incite inflammatory muscle disorders as well.
One of the more under-appreciated causes of inflammatory muscle disorders is cholesterol-lowering drugs. An extremely large portion of our global population is now under treatment for high cholesterol, with the use of cholesterol-lowering agents, called stains. A negative side effect that should be looked out for is generalized muscle pain and weakness.

3. Time To See A Doctor When…

If symptoms of muscle pain and/or weakness persist for more than a short span of time, or if the pain and weakness continues to worsen, it’s time for medical evaluation. Because there is no specifically known cause, but many contributing factors to the onset of inflammatory muscle disease, having a good knowledge of family history can be immensely helpful, especially when a family member has previously demonstrated similar symptoms.
Inflammatory muscle disease can be associated with various types of cancers, so knowledge of past family history for any malignancies will also be of great benefit.

4. There Can Be Some Serious Complications

In severe cases of inflammatory disease, major bodily functions can be seriously affected. For example, in muscular dystrophy, muscles of both the upper and lower extremities are ultimately rendered unable to support the body for standing or walking. In some case the muscles of the neck are affected and it becomes difficult to hold your head upright. Muscles of the rib cage and chest wall can also be affected, causing difficulty with breathing. Getting early diagnosis and treatment can help to reduce symptoms and their severity.

5. Get The Right Diagnosis. Get The Right Treatment.

Proper diagnosis of inflammatory muscle disease typically includes a good quality family history and a thorough physical examination. In some instances additional studies may need to be performed such as an MRI or CT scan. Diagnostic laboratory studies consisting of blood work, and more specialized studies of immune cells are important in arriving at a correct diagnosis.
By and large, the main treatment for inflammatory disease is the use of systemic steroids. Steroids are powerful anti-inflammatory agents used to keep symptoms at a manageable minimum. In cases where steroids are not enough, newer drugs such as Methotrexate (a drug used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis) can be used to enhance treatment.

About this Author

Ken Chisholm’s expertise in nursing, healthcare, surgery and orthopedics spans well over 30 years. As an R.N. and Orthopedic Physician Assistant, he holds multiple board certifications in these areas. Ken has a passion for empowering people through education and information. He also writes for a Texas-based publisher that designs specialty study templates for medical and healthcare certifying examinations.