- Rheumatoid Arthritis Slideshow Pictures
- Joint-Friendly Exercises Slideshow Pictures
- Take the RA Quiz
- Patient Comments: Polymyositis - Effective Treatments
- Patient Comments: Polymyositis - Symptoms and Signs
- Patient Comments: Polymyositis - Personal Experience
- Find a local Rheumatologist in your town
- Polymyositis and dermatomyositis facts
- What is polymyositis? What is dermatomyositis?
- Polymyositis vs. polymyalgia rheumatica
- What causes polymyositis and dermatomyositis?
- What are signs and symptoms of polymyositis and dermatomyositis?
- What tests do doctors use to diagnose polymyositis or dermatomyositis?
- What types of doctors treat polymyositis and dermatomyositis?
- What is the treatment for polymyositis and dermatomyositis?
- What are home remedies for polymyositis and dermatomyositis?
- What is the prognosis for polymyositis?
- What are risk factors for worse outcomes with polymyositis or dermatomyositis?
- Is it possible to prevent polymyositis?
- Are there support groups for people with polymyositis and dermatomyositis?
- Where can people find more information on polymyositis and dermatomyositis?
What are signs and symptoms of polymyositis and dermatomyositis?
Weakness of muscles is the most common symptom of polymyositis. The muscles involved usually are those that are closest to the trunk of the body. Both sides of the body are affected. The onset can be gradual or rapid. This results in varying degrees of loss of muscle power and atrophy. The loss of strength can be noticed as difficulty getting up from chairs, walking, climbing stairs, or lifting above the shoulders. Trouble with swallowing and weakness lifting the head from the pillow can occur. Occasionally, the muscles ache and are tender to the touch.
Weakness of the muscles that produce the voice can lead to a weak-sounding voice (dysphonia).
With skin involvement (dermatomyositis), the eyes can be surrounded by a violet discoloration with swelling. There can be scaly reddish discoloration over the knuckles, elbows, and knees (Gottron's sign). There can also be reddish rash on the face, neck, and upper chest. The skin changes can occur with or prior to the development of muscle weakness. Hard lumps of calcium deposits can develop in the fatty layer of the skin, most commonly in childhood dermatomyositis.
Because polymyositis can appear in combination with other illnesses (see related articles on systemic lupus erythematosus, scleroderma, and rheumatoid arthritis), it can also have overlap features with them. These illnesses are discussed elsewhere.
Both polymyositis and dermatomyositis can sometimes be associated with cancers, including lymphoma, breast cancer, lung cancer, ovarian cancer, and colon cancer. The cancer risk is reported to be much greater with dermatomyositis than polymyositis.