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About Myopathy

Myopathy (myositis) is the term used for a wide range of muscle diseases or disorders that have many possible causes – among them toxins, infection, autoimmune conditions, hereditary diseases such as muscular dystrophy, hormonal abnormalities, or inflammation. Whatever their origin, all myopathies cause muscle weakness, sometimes in very specific areas of the body, which can make walking, standing, holding on to things, chewing, swallowing, or even talking difficult. In addition muscle soreness, patients may have cramps; muscle shrinkage (atrophy) can also occur.

Medical Treatment for Myopathy

To determine a course of treatment for each patient with myopathy, doctors first work to identify its type and cause. Diagnostic tests can include blood tests, electromyography (EMG) – a test that measures nerve signals and speed and muscle function can distinguish muscular or nerve causes of weakness. Muscle biopsy, in which a small muscle sample is surgically removed for examination may be necessary; our specialized neuropathologists are experts in the interpretation of these samples. If doctors find that myopathy results from an underlying, treatable medical problem, they will first focus on treating that problem. Other treatments and steps may include:

  • Medications including corticosteroids and immune system treatments
  • Vitamin supplements
  • Avoidance of certain medications or substances
  • Physical or occupational therapy
  • Genetic counseling

Rehabilitation for Myopathy

People with myopathies may be extremely weak. Physical and occupational therapy are key components in helping these patients regain or maintain their ability to perform daily activities. Rehabilitation experts at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital work with patients to:

  • Evaluate muscle strength and motor skills and develop an individualized program to maintain or improve motor function.
  • Recommend devices including neck supports, canes, walkers, and wheelchairs and equipment for the home to ensure patient safety and mobility.
  • Discuss ways to modify activities, conserve energy, and simplify work.

Research for Myopathy

New York-Presbyterian researchers are working to identify the genetic and metabolic causes of myopathies and to develop new treatments. A number of entities were described or specific causes identified by our researchers.

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