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Articles » NINDS Dermatomyositis Information Page: NINDS
 

NINDS Dermatomyositis Information Page: NINDS

Article title: NINDS Dermatomyositis Information Page: NINDS

Conditions: Dermatomyositis


What is Dermatomyositis?
Dermatomyositis is one of a group of acquired muscle diseases called inflammatory myopathies. The disease, which has a subacute (somewhat short and relatively severe) onset, affects both children and adults. Females are more often affected than males. Dermatomyositis is characterized by a rash accompanying, or more often, preceding muscle weakness. The rash is described as patchy, bluish-purple discolorations on the face, neck, shoulders, upper chest, elbows, knees, knuckles, and back. Some patients may also develop hardened bumps of calcium deposits under the skin. The most common symptom is muscle weakness, usually affecting those muscles that are closest to the trunk of the body (proximal). Eventually, patients have difficulty rising from a sitting position, climbing stairs, lifting objects, or reaching overhead. In some cases, distal muscles (those not close to the trunk of the body) may be affected later in the course of the disease. Trouble with swallowing (dysphagia) may occur. Occasionally, the muscles ache and are tender to touch. Patients may also feel fatigue and discomfort and have weight loss or a low-grade fever.

Is there any treatment?
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.

What is the prognosis?
Most cases of dermatomyositis respond to therapy. The disease is usually more severe and resistant to therapy in patients with cardiac or pulmonary problems.

What research is being done?
The NINDS conducts and supports a broad range of research on neuromuscular disorders such as inflammatory myopathies. The goals of these studies are to conduct therapeutic trials to increase understanding of the disorders and, ultimately, to find ways to prevent and cure them.

 Organizations

American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association
22100 Gratiot Avenue
Eastpointe
East Detroit, MI 48201-2227
aarda@aol.com
https://www.aarda.org/
Tel: 586-776-3900 800-598-4668
Fax: 586-776-3903

Muscular Dystrophy Association
3300 East Sunrise Drive
Tucson, AZ 85718-3208
mda@mdausa.org
https://www.mdausa.org/
Tel: 520-529-2000 800-572-1717
Fax: 520-529-5300

Myositis Association of America
755 Cantrell Avenue
Suite C
Harrisonburg, VA 22801
maa@myositis.org
https://www.myositis.org/
Tel: 540-433-7686
Fax: 540-432-0206

National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD)
P.O. Box 8923
(100 Route 37)
New Fairfield, CT 06812-8923
orphan@rarediseases.org
https://www.rarediseases.org/
Tel: 203-746-6518 800-999-NORD (6673)
Fax: 203-746-6481

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)
National Institutes of Health
Bldg. 31, Rm. 4C05
Bethesda, MD 20892-2350
NIAMSInfo@mail.nih.gov
https://www.nih.gov/niams
Tel: 301-496-8188 877-22-NIAMS (226-4267)

Related NINDS Publications and Information

  • NIH Myositis Outcomes Workshop
    Health Disparities Working Group Meeting: Cognitive and Emotional Health Myositis Outcomes Workshop

    This fact sheet is in the public domain. You may copy it.Provided by:
    The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
    National Institutes of Health
    Bethesda, MD 20892


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