Dermatomyositis and Disability

According to The National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, dermatomyositis is a muscle disease. It is a type of inflammatory myopathy, typically characterized by inflammation and a skin rash.

Causes, Incidence, and Risk Factors

Dermatomyositis’ cause is unknown. Experts believe it may be the result a viral infection of the muscles or a problem with the body’s immune system. It may also occur in patients with cancer of the abdomen, lung or other body area.

Anyone can develop dermatomyositis, but it most common in children between the ages of 5 and 15, and in adults between the ages 40 and 60.

Women typically develop the condition more often than men.

Polymyositis is a similar condition, but the symptoms in that condition typically occur without a skin rash.

Symptoms

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Muscle weakness, stiffness, or soreness
  • Purple or violet colored upper eyelids
  • Purple-red skin rash
  • Shortness of breath

The muscle weakness may appear suddenly or slowly over weeks or months. An individual with the condition may have difficulty raising his or her arms overhead, difficulty rising from a sitting position, and difficulty climbing stairs.

The rash may appear over the face, hands (knuckles), neck, shoulders, upper chest, and back.

Signs and Diagnostic Tests

The doctor will perform a physical exam.

Tests may include:

  • Bloods test to check levels of creatine phosphokinase and aldolase
  • ECG
  • Electromyography
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Muscle biopsy

Treatment

The disease is treated with anti-inflammatory medicines such as corticosteroids and drugs that suppress the immune system.

When muscle strength improves, the patient’s doctor may tell the patient to slowly cut back on his or her doses. However, most individuals with the condition must take a medicine called prednisone indefinitely.

If the condition is associated with a tumor, the muscle weakness and rash may improve when the tumor is excised or removed.

Expectations (Prognosis)

Some individuals may experience a complete recovery hand have their symptoms completely disappear. This is especially true with children.

In adults, death may result from severe and prolonged muscle weakness, malnutrition, pneumonia, or lung failure. The major causes of death are cancer (malignancy) and lung disease.

Complications

Complications from this condition include:

  • Acute renal failure
  • Cancer (malignancy)
  • Inflammation of the heart
  • Joint pain
  • Lung disease

Dermatomyositis and Disability

If you have dermatomyositis and your condition is so severe that it keeps you from working, you may be eligible for disability benefits.  Contact Mr. Ortiz today at 850-308-7833 for a free case evaluation.