What Are the Symptoms of Myopathy?

Medically Reviewed on 1/27/2023

Model of human muscles in arm
Weakness, impaired daily functions or activities, and muscle pain and tenderness are the most common myopathy symptoms.

The most common symptoms of myopathy are weakness and impaired daily functions or activities, as well as muscle pain and tenderness. When a person experiences significant muscle pain and tenderness without weakness, there might be other causes to consider.

There are several general signs and symptoms of myopathy, including

  • Symmetric proximal muscle weakness
  • Fatigue and malaise
  • Motor delay
  • Bulbar muscle dystrophy (dysfunction of the swallowing and speech muscles)
  • Myoglobinuria (dark-colored urine) and/or fever
  • No paresthesia (sensory impairments) although deep tendon reflexes could be diminished or absent in hypokalemic paralysis
  • Atrophy and hyporeflexia are late findings (early symptoms usually indicate neuropathic disease)
  • Consciousness at normal levels
  • Gottron papules (dermatomyositis) are pink-to-violet scaly areas over the knuckles, elbows and knees

The acuity of symptom onset may help diagnose

Muscle-related symptoms of myopathy

  • Proximal muscle weakness: Trouble rising from chairs, getting out of baths, climbing stairs, shaving or combing.
  • Distal muscle weakness: Weak grasp, handwriting difficulties, and walking difficulties (e.g., flapping gait).

What is myopathy?

Any disease that affects muscles required to do voluntary tasks is called myopathy. It can lead to limited movements, exercise tolerance and general health difficulties. Myopathies can be classified into the following types:

  • Congenital myopathies: Delayed motor skill development and skeletal and facial abnormalities could be present at birth.
  • Muscular dystrophies: A progressive weakness of voluntary muscles that could be present at birth.
  • Mitochondrial myopathies: Caused by genetic abnormalities.
  • Glycogen storage diseases of muscle: Enzymes and metabolism of glycogen and glucose are affected by genetic mutations.
  • Myoglobinuria: Myoglobin is affected by metabolic dysfunction.
  • Dermatomyositis: An inflammatory disease of the skin and muscles.
  • Myositis ossificans: The presence of bone growth in muscle tissue.
  • Familial periodic paralysis: Weakness of the limbs.
  • Polymyositis, inclusion body myositis and related myopathies: Skeletal muscle inflammatory diseases.
  • Neuromyotonia: A form of muscle stiffness accompanied by twitching and fluttering.
  • Stiff-man syndrome: Causes rigidity and irritability.
  • Tetany: Prolonged spasms of the limbs.
  • Muscle cramps and stiffness


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What are the causes of myopathy?

Myopathy can be caused by

  • Genetics
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Muscle injuries
  • Infections
  • Medications
  • Thyroid diseases
  • Electrolyte levels

There is no known cause of inflammatory myopathies.

What are the risk factors for myopathy?

Several factors increase the risk of developing myopathy. Myopathy does not affect everyone who has these risk factors. There are a few inherited myopathies, such as muscular dystrophy.

Myopathy is associated with the following risk factors:

  • Infections
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Exposure to toxins
  • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Some medications
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Endocrine disorders

You should contact your doctor if you have any concerns about your symptoms.

How can myopathy be diagnosed?

Myopathy is diagnosed by identifying its cause. Specialists could be involved.

During your appointment, your doctor will ask about your symptoms, family medical history and personal health history. They may order the following tests:

How is myopathy treated?

Myopathy treatment options vary depending on the condition.

Your doctor may recommend only supportive or symptomatic treatment for some conditions.

The following are other possible treatments:

  • Medications
  • Occupational therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Advanced skincare
  • Orthopedic and assistive devices
  • Supportive (airway, breathing and circulation management; hydration and critical care)
  • Surgery

Inflammatory myopathies without intervention can result in permanent disability.

Once a diagnosis is established, a treatment plan will be implemented. It may include adjusting dosages of immunosuppressive medications. Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as Advil and Motrin may relieve pain. Follow your doctor’s recommendation while using these to avoid side effects and drug interactions.

Physical therapy is commonly prescribed, and rehabilitation helps many manage muscle weakness. Exercises to maintain a range of motion can be beneficial. However, inflamed muscles should not be overexerted. Rehabilitation programs assist people to regain maximum physical and cognitive function.

Outlook for myopathy

  • Each person has a different prognosis.
  • In many cases, this means a long life with little or no disability.
  • Progressive disorders can become disabling, life-threatening, or even fatal even with treatment.
  • Discuss your specific myopathy diagnosis with your doctor.

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Medically Reviewed on 1/27/2023
Myopathy. https://www.cedars-sinai.org/health-library/diseases-and-conditions/m/myopathy.html

Myopathy. https://www.mountsinai.org/care/neurology/services/neuromuscular-disease/conditions/myopathy

Myopathy. https://www.ninds.nih.gov/health-information/disorders/myopathy

What are myopathies? https://www.webmd.com/brain/what-are-myopathies

Myopathies. https://www.pennmedicine.org/for-patients-and-visitors/patient-information/conditions-treated-a-to-z/myopathies