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Medically reviewed by Last updated on May 1, 2023.

Polymyositis is a condition that causes inflammation and weakness of your muscles. The arms and legs are most often affected. The symptoms usually get slowly worse over weeks to months. The cause may not be known. Your immune system may attack your muscle tissue for unknown reasons. Viruses may also cause polymyositis.



  • Medicines may help decrease inflammation or slow an attack on your muscles by your immune system.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell your provider if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Go to physical and occupational therapy as directed:

A physical therapist teaches you exercises to help improve movement and strength, and to decrease pain. An occupational therapist teaches you skills to help with your daily activities.

Massage and stretch your muscles:

Gentle body massage and stretches may help prevent muscle contractures. A contracture is a shortened muscle that makes a joint difficult to move.

Eat a variety of healthy foods:

Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Limit how much salt you eat. This will help you prevent weight gain from steroid medicine.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You have more weakness than usual.
  • You have trouble standing or walking.
  • You have an increased feeling of sadness or loneliness, or you feel depressed.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • You have any of the following signs of a heart attack:
    • Squeezing, pressure, or pain in your chest
    • You may also have any of the following:
      • Discomfort or pain in your back, neck, jaw, stomach, or arm
      • Shortness of breath
      • Nausea or vomiting
      • Lightheadedness or a sudden cold sweat
  • You cannot stand or walk.
  • You cannot swallow.

© Copyright Merative 2023 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Polymyositis

Treatment options

Care guides

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.