Polymyositis (PM) is most commonly found in people over the age of 20 and affects more women than men. PM is characterized by chronic muscle inflammation and weakness. As with other types of myositis, there is no known cause or cure for polymyositis. Although there is not currently a cure, there are treatments that have seen success in managing symptoms.

Polymyositis Signs and Symptoms

The following are the most common signs and symptoms of polymyositis:

  • Marked weakness in the muscles closest to the center of the body, like the forearms, thighs, hips, shoulders, neck, and back
  • Sometimes, weakness in the fingers and toes
  • Falling and difficulty getting up from a fall
  • Chronic dry cough
  • Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)

Muscle Weakness

Muscle weakness usually happens over days, weeks, or months. It can affect your ability to walk, run, and lift yourself up after a fall. The weakness typically begins with muscles closest to and within the trunk of the body, such as the muscles of the neck, hips, back, and shoulders.

For some, that weakness then spreads to other parts of the body. Polymyositis can affect muscles all over the body, and some patients will feel weakness in muscles far from the trunk, often in the hands and fingers. Other PM patients may also experience muscle pain, breathing problems, and trouble swallowing as the muscles in the digestive tract and chest wall can also be affected.

If you’re experiencing any of these polymyositis symptoms, we’d encourage you to talk to your doctor to begin the diagnosis process, which often includes a muscle biopsy to distinguish the muscle weakness from other muscular disorders. Since polymyositis is a rare disease, many physicians may not be familiar with the signs and symptoms. If you’re struggling to find an accurate diagnosis, visiting a specialist can help.