Myopathy: Types, Symptoms and Treatment
April 07, 2021 | Farah Jassawalla

Myopathy: Types, Symptoms and Treatment

Myopathy is a single term that refers to different diseases. In general, any disease that affects those muscles which control voluntary movement comes under the term myopathy. In myopathy, muscle fibers begin to malfunction as they grow weaker and compromise the movements made by those muscles. 

Myopathies can be “acquired” or “inherited”. 

Genetic Myopathy

There are a few genetic conditions that may result in myopathy, these are listed here:

Congenital myopathy

Familial paralysis

Muscular dystrophy

Pompe’s disease

Glycogen storage muscle disease

Mitochondrial myopathies

In the case of myopathies passed on through genes, symptoms typically look like the following: 

Weakness of muscles

Problems with respiration

Motor delay

Malfunctioning of muscles responsible for speech, swallowing, etc.

Metabolic myopathies:

Genetic conditions that affect metabolism are called metabolic myopathies. Due to these genetic diseases, the body has insufficient levels of certain enzymes. The muscle cells that are affected in the process fail to function properly and are unable to convert sugar and other body fuels into energy. 

Symptoms of metabolic myopathy include difficulty in breathing, cramping of muscles, breakdown of muscle tissue, and heart problems. Some patients may also become intolerant to exercise and may feel fatigued very easily. 

Acquired Myopathy

In the case of acquired myopathies, causes are as following: 

Disorders of the endocrine system

Muscle inflammation, known as myositis


Neuromuscular diseases

Muscle cramps

Severe dehydration i.e. loss of water from the body 

The most common among acquired myopathies are inflammatory myopathies. 

Inflammatory Myopathies:

Inflammatory myopathies refer to chronic muscle inflammation, muscle pain, and muscle weakness. 

There are further types of inflammatory myopathies: 



Inclusion body myositis

Necrotizing autoimmune myopathy

The symptoms and signs of inflammatory myopathies include a range of problems. For example, in polymyositis, a person may face issues with mobility, such as getting up from a sitting position, lifting something, climbing stairs, etc. Furthermore, one may have trouble swallowing, speaking, or even breathing. The risk of arthritis is also there in polymyositis. 

In dermatomyositis, a red rash appears over muscles like eyelids, and in places like elbows, knees, toes, knuckles, etc. This itchy red rash is accompanied by progressive weakness of the muscles. 

In IBM, inclusion body myositis, there is gradual muscle degeneration and muscle weakness. This typically reaches a serious stage in old age, generally present in people over 50 years. They may have trouble holding things, tying a tie, buttoning up a shirt, etc. The signs of inclusion body myositis also include falling or tripping often. 

Lastly, a necrotizing autoimmune myopathy, NAM, is relatively rare and usually occurs in adults. Its symptoms include fatigue, muscle pain, and in some cases, weight loss. In addition to that, the affected person may find it difficult to rise from low chairs or beds and face trouble climbing, or lifting objects. 

Diagnosis for Myopathy 

Depending on visible symptoms and the type, there are a few approaches to diagnose myopathy. A physician usually begins with a physical exam. Then there are tests to determine muscle strength. 

Additionally, EMG, MRI and ultrasound are carried out. Along with that, muscle biopsies and genetic tests are also done to diagnose a patient for myopathy. 

Treatment for Myopathy 

A hard and fast cure for genetic myopathies has not been discovered yet, but treatment plans are made by the physician according to symptoms and severity. For acquired myopathies, some medications help manage the symptoms. These medications generally include corticosteroids and immunosuppressants. 

You can find medications along with other treatments and tests at Shifa4U

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Farah Jassawalla

Farah Jassawalla is a graduate of the Lahore School of Economics. She is also a writer, and healthcare enthusiast, having closely observed case studies while working with Lahore's thriving general physicians at their clinics.