Myopathy

Myopathy, also known as disease of the muscle, occurs when the muscles of the body are attacked by the body's immune system. This attack damages the fibers of the muscles in the body leaving the body's muscles in a weakened condition. Myopathy can cause problems with muscle tone and voluntary muscle movement. Myopathy can be either genetic or acquired, and may be present at birth or develop later in life.

Types of Myopathy

Myopathy is categorized by the affected muscles and muscle biopsy results. Some of the types of myopathy are:

Muscular Dystrophy

Muscular dystrophy is one of the most common types of muscle disorders that affects children. This genetic condition is present at birth, although symptoms do not usually begin until the child is a few years old. Muscular dystrophy may cause children to stumble, waddle and have trouble standing up and pushing things. Symptoms may vary depending on the individual type of muscular dystrophy.

Congenital Myopathy

Congenital myopathy is present at birth and usually caused by hereditary factors, but is not considered progressive. These conditions often affect the legs and cause a delay in the ability to walk or trouble climbing stairs.

Inflammatory Myopathy

Inflammatory myopathy is a muscle disorder that is a result of an immune system reaction in the muscles. These autoimmune disorders attack the body cells and cause overall muscle weakness. Drug-induced myopathy is caused from the use of certain medications, such as immunosuppressants, which can cause severe weakness in some cases.

Causes of Myopathy

While myopathy can be either genetic or acquired, sometimes the cause of myopathy is unknown. Some of the causes of myopathy may include the following:

  • Injury
  • Overuse
  • Genetics
  • Thyroid disease
  • Cancer
  • Inflammation
  • Infection
  • Reaction to medication

Symptoms of Myopathy

Symptoms of myopathy vary based on the type of myopathy. Some of the symptoms may include:

  • Rash
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Weakness of facial muscles
  • Muscle cramps and weakness
  • Loss of strength
  • Stiffness
  • Muscle spasm

Diagnosis of Myopathy

After reviewing medical history and performing a medical examination, diagnostic tests will be conducted to confirm a diagnosis. Some of these tests may include:

  • Blood test
  • Muscle biopsy
  • Electromyogram (EMG)
  • Genetic tests for mutated genes

Treatment of Myopathy

Although muscle disorders usually cannot be cured, there are several treatment options available to manage the symptoms and maximize quality of life.

Treatment for myopathy may include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Bracing
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Walking devices
  • Acupuncture

More severe cases may require surgery to release tendons or correct abnormalities of the spine.

Additional Resources