Check-up inclusion body myositis
Could you explain the condition inclusion body myositis?
Inclusion body myositis (IBM) is an inflammatory muscle disease characterised by progressive muscle weakness.
Symptoms typically include difficulty in swallowing (dysphagia), weakness of the thigh muscle (quadriceps) and weakness of the muscles in the forearm that allow the wrists and fingers to flex.
Muscle weakness can become progressively worse over months or years and make activities such as climbing stairs, getting out of chairs and gripping by hand difficult.
IBM sufferers can experience recurrent falls due to the muscle weakness.
Is it more common in men or women?
IBM is more common in men than in women and while most people with IBM develop symptoms after the age of 50, some may experience them at an earlier age.
The disease itself is painless, but pain may be experienced as a result of injuries to joints and soft tissues due to muscle weakness.
Diagnosis is made following a detailed medical history and thorough physical examination in addition to more specialised tests.
These can include blood tests, muscle biopsy – usually of the thigh or shoulder muscle performed under local anaesthetic – and electromyography used to detect abnormal electrical impulses in the muscles.
How can it be treated?
As there is no cure for IBM, the aim of treatment is to manage symptoms, reduce inflammation and prevent muscle weakness from progressing.
Treatment may include the use of medication to suppress the immune system as well as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for pain relief.
Physiotherapy aims to maximise the efficiency of the relatively unaffected muscles. A programme of regular stretching exercises can help maintain a range of motion in weakened arms and legs.
Occupational therapists (OTs) can provide advice and help in overcoming the everyday practical problems that IBM patients face.
Typically, OTs observe a patient in their own home before advising on strategies (such as falls prevention programmes and activity pacing) as well as aids and equipment.
Speech therapy may be required by those experiencing difficulties swallowing.
Lifestyle changes including rest, good nutrition and stress-reduction techniques can all help in managing the symptoms of IBM.
For information on IBM, contact Muscular Dystrophy Ireland (MDI) at mdi.ie or freephone 1800-245300.
Further information can also be obtained from the UK Myositis Support Group at myositis.org.uk