Dermatomyositis

Dermatomyositis  involving inflammation -- swelling or irritation -- of the voluntary muscles, those that normally govern movement, such as the muscles of the arms and legs.

Dermatomyositis means inflammation of muscle and skin. The results of either condition are weakened muscles and often muscle pain. These conditions are seldom fatal, but in the most severe cases a person may need a wheelchair or require assistance with activities of daily living.

Dermatomyositis is a connective tissue disease that if left untreated could cause death within 3 - 5 years. Inflammation occurs in the joints, muscles and sometimes organs. This inflammation causes muscle wasting and atrophy. The main areas that are affected are the shoulder and hip girdle and the throat. Having weakened hip girdle muscles creates difficulty getting up from the floor when you are lying or sitting down. Plus you have to use your hands for support when you get up from a soft chair or couch. Having weakened shoulder girdle muscles creates difficulty doing things like hanging up a heavy coat or holding your arms up to curl your hair. When the throat is affected you frequently feel a choking sensation and have a problem swallowing. One's skin develops a rash that is red, splotchy and very itchy. This rash is usually found on the chest, arms, hands, face and scalp. Fatigue is a big problem and sometimes you can only do one thing a day - like you can't make a meal and eat it too - you're just too tired.

Treatment for dermatomyositis generally consists of a steroid drug called prednisone. For patients in whom prednisone is not effective, other immunosuppressants such as azathioprine and methotrexate may be prescribed. Recently, a drug called intravenous immunoglobulin was shown to be effective and safe in the treatment of the disease. Physical therapy is usually recommended to preserve muscle function and avoid muscle atrophy.

 

Physicians Clinical Staff
Nancy Olsen, MD, Chief Sandra Maclary, RN
Shirley Albano-Aluquin, M.D. Jamie Carter LPN
Sharon E. Banks, D.O  
C. April Bingham, M.D. Administrative Staff
Joseph Enama, MD Sandy Dymond
Natalya Fish, M.D.   Deb Lutz
Brandt P. Groh, M.D.   
Barbara E. Ostrov, M.D.    
Sowmya Surapaneni, MD  
Theresa Wolpaw, MD