Medication for Inflammatory Myopathies

Most treatment plans for inflammatory myopathies involve the use of medication to decrease inflammation and slow muscle loss. Doctors at NYU Langone prescribe medication based on the type of inflammatory myopathy you have.

Medication isn’t effective for people with inclusion body myositis. However, the disease progresses slowly over a person’s lifetime and isn’t life threatening. Many people with this type of inflammatory myopathy eventually rely on a mobility aid, such as a cane, walker, or wheelchair, in order to stay active.

The following treatments are prescribed for polymyositis and dermatomyositis.

Corticosteroids

These medications suppress inflammation. Corticosteroids are usually taken by mouth in pill form, but they can also be given through a vein as an intravenous (IV) infusion. They are usually taken daily for about four to six weeks.

People who receive corticosteroids as an IV infusion can do so at their doctor’s office or the hospital. They can also have an IV line installed at home through a home health care company.

Doctors may also prescribe a topical ointment for those with dermatomyositis to treat the rash that’s associated with the condition.

Immunosuppressants

For people whose symptoms cause pain and limit mobility, doctors may prescribe immune-suppressing medications, or immunosuppressants. These medications reduce the immune system’s ability to attack the body and cause inflammation.

The types of immunosuppressants given depend on the severity of the inflammation. Most are taken by mouth in pill form, but some can be given through a vein as an IV infusion.

Some people with inflammatory muscle diseases take a combination of steroids and immunosuppressants daily for three to six months or until symptoms subside. These medications may be taken for these short periods of time throughout life, as recommended by your doctor.

Intravenous Immunoglobulin

Immunoglobulin, or antibodies, derived from the plasma of donated blood are sometimes used to treat people with inflammatory myopathies. These antibodies destroy bacteria and viruses, but they can also fight cells that are attacking the body.

This treatment may be recommended for people whose symptoms limit mobility or cause pain and discomfort. Intravenous immunoglobulin may also be given to people who cannot tolerate other medications.

IV immunoglobulin therapy is typically administered daily over the course of five days, followed by monthly three-day courses. Treatment usually continues until symptoms improve and a person’s condition stabilizes, which may take several months.

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