Health & Fitness

What is muscle inflammation, and how do you treat it?

Muscle inflammation is also known as myositis in medical terms is a condition characterized by a swollen muscle that causes pain with or without other symptoms. Some muscle inflammation is caused by viral infections and some with no known cause. There are two types of viral myositis, which are acute viral myositis and chronic viral myositis. Doctoroncall is where we can learn more about diseases like muscle inflammation and get a medical opinion from a registered doctor. The following are viruses that may infect the human body and cause muscle inflammation:

  • Epstein-Barr virus
  • Coxsackie virus
  • Herpes simplex virus
  • Influenza A virus
  • Influenza B virus
  • Parainfluenza virus
  • Echovirus
  • Adenovirus
  • Measles virus
  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Varicella-zoster virus
  • Dengue virus
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)

Muscle inflammation that is caused by viral infection may lead to the death of muscle or also known as muscle necrosis. The exact process is not clearly understood. However, certain theories have been linked to this. The theories are:

  • Direct invasion of the virus into muscles caused damage
  • Muscle infection by virus triggers the body to release chemicals that are toxic to muscles as a response.
  • Body defense mechanisms that are stimulated by virus infection cause direct damage to muscles

 The clinical features of muscle inflammation due to viral infections are:

  • Anorexia
  • Fever
  • Symptoms of upper respiratory tract infection
  • Symptoms due to digestive tract infection
  • Muscle ache and pain
  • Swollen muscles
  • Body weakness
  • Dark coloured urine due to muscle breakdown

As mentioned earlier, in some conditions where the muscles are inflamed, the underlying causes are unknown. This phenomenon or condition is called idiopathic inflammatory myopathies. The examples of idiopathic inflammatory myopathies are:

  1. Juvenile polymyositis
  2. Polymyositis
  3. Juvenile dermatomyositis
  4. Dermatomyositis
  5. Scleroderma
  6. Mixed connective tissue disease
  7. Autoimmune necrotizing myopathy

Idiopathic inflammatory myopathies are rare conditions and mainly affect women more than men. The features of these conditions are:

  1. Muscle weakness
  2. Skin changes
  3. Lung disease
  4. Cancer
  5. Other systemic rheumatic diseases
  6. Antisynthetase syndrome
  7. Juvenile dermatomyositis

Muscle weakness in patients with this group of diseases mainly affects the proximal muscle group. The muscles group that are commonly affected are those located at the arms, thighs, trunk, and neck. Patients will face difficulties in standing up from sitting, climbing a flight of stairs, and combing hair that ranges from weeks to months. Some patients may lose the ability to swallow and this puts them at risk of having food travels down into their airways. This phenomenon will cause lung infection or pneumonia. Those with muscle inflammation of unknown causes will also develop some skin changes. The skin changes are:

  • Heliotrope rash
  • Flat red spots at the back and shoulders which are known as the shawl sign
  • Flat red spots at the front of the chest which called the V sign
  • Mechanic’s hand ( rough and crack of the skin at the tips and sides of the fingers)
  • Nail abnormalities
  • Scalp involvement

 Cancer is also commonly associated with muscle inflammation of unknown causes. The risk of having cancer in patients increases with age. Breast, ovaries, lungs, and prostate are cancer that commonly occurs among patients suffering from muscle inflammation. A thorough history taking, complete physical examination, and advanced tests are necessary to formulate a diagnosis of muscle inflammation disorder and to detect the exact type of disease that haunts patients. Blood tests, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), electromyogram (EMG), and muscle biopsy are examples of tests that may be helpful to diagnose and treat this condition.

 Please keep in mind that, some other conditions may mimic this condition and they are:

  1. Viral myositis
  2. Inclusion body myositis
  3. Certain medications
  4. Hypothyroidism
  5. Muscular dystrophies
  6. Electrolyte abnormalities

Idiopathic inflammatory myopathies are usually treated with medications like prednisolone, methotrexate, azathioprine, rituximab, hydroxychloroquine, and others. Suppression of the immune system is the key to treating this condition. Please get a medical assessment before starting consuming any form of medication or herbs. An irresponsible act by denying the role of a medical doctor in managing your medical conditions will only cause more damage to your body. Stay safe and take good care of your health.

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