How is polymyositis treated?

Polymyositis is treated with high doses of corticosteroids as a first course of treatment. Corticosteroids are given because they can effectively decrease the inflammation in the muscles. Corticosteroids do not always adequately improve polymyositis. In these patients immunosuppressive medications are considered. These medicines include:

  • Methotrexate (brand names Rheumatrex® and Trexall®)
  • Azathioprine (brand name Imuran® and Azasan®)
  • Cyclophosphamide (brand name Cytoxan®)
  • Chlorambucil (brand name Leukeran®)
  • Cyclosporine (brand name Sandimmune®, Gengraf®, and Neoral®)
  • Tacrolimus (brand name Astagraf XL®, Hecoria®, Prograf®)
  • Mycophenolate (brand name CellCept®, Myfortic®)
  • Rituximab (brand name Rituxan®)

In severe cases of polymyositis, the intravenous infusion of immunoglobulins (IVIG) has been an effective treatment. Physical therapy also is important in the treatment of polymyositis.

With early medical treatment of the disease and disease flares, patients with polymyositis can do well. The disease frequently becomes inactive, enabling the patient to focus on muscle rehabilitation.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/02/2019.

References

  • Muscular Dystrophy Association. Polymyositis (PM). Accessed 4/3/2019.
  • Myositis Association. Polymyositis. Accessed 4/3/2019.
  • Hellmann DB, Imboden JB, Jr. Rheumatologic & Immunologic Disorders. In: Papadakis MA, McPhee SJ, Rabow MW. eds. Current Medical Diagnosis & Treatment 2015. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2014.
  • Ropper AH, Samuels MA, Klein JP. Chapter 48. Diseases of Muscle. In: Ropper AH, Samuels MA, Klein JP. eds. Adams & Victor's Principles of Neurology, 10e. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2014.

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