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Specialists in Duke’s nationally ranked rheumatology center diagnose and manage treatment of myositis, a group of diseases characterized by muscle inflammation. Our experienced rheumatologists collaborate with other Duke specialists to relieve the muscle weakness and fatigue associated with myositis and help you return to an active lifestyle.

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About Myositis

Myositis is caused by inflammation in the muscles. It includes polymyositis, which primarily causes muscle weakness, and dermatomyositis, which involves both skin rashes and muscle weakness.

Inclusion-body myositis is characterized by gradual muscle weakness throughout the body, while polymyositis primarily involves weakness in the muscles in the body’s middle section.

Inflammatory myositis may be linked to other autoimmune conditions -- including lupus, scleroderma, and rheumatoid arthritis -- and may cause complications such as difficulty breathing or swallowing. As a result, we take a comprehensive approach to treatment that draws upon the experience of specialists throughout Duke. Our goal is to provide you the best care for your individual needs.

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While there is no cure for myositis, your doctor can offer effective disease management options. Your treatment plan will be based on how severe your condition is and how it affects your muscles and other body systems. Treatments may include:


Corticosteroids such as prednisone, and immunosuppressants such as methotrexate or azathioprine, may be prescribed to control your body’s immune system and its  inflammatory attacks on muscles and other healthy tissues. These drugs may also reduce inflammation, relieve pain, and boost muscle strength.

Physical Therapy

Exercises that improve strength, flexibility, and function aim to improve your quality of life and reduce your chances of developing a disability.

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If you have muscle weakness or other symptoms that may indicate myositis, our experienced doctors will carefully review your medical history and perform a complete physical exam to make a definitive diagnosis. Your evaluation may include:

Blood Tests

Your doctor may order blood tests that measure elevated levels of muscle enzymes and rheumatoid factors such as antibodies and proteins.

Electromyogram (EMG)

A small metal needle inserted through the skin and into the muscles records impulses or electrical activity that pinpoint damage or weakness.


MRI images can show signs of muscle damage.

Muscle Biopsy

The doctor removes a small sample of muscle tissue to be examined under a microscope for signs of myositis.

Skin Biopsy

The doctor removes a small sample of skin tissue to be examined under a microscope to help diagnose dermatomyositis.

Best Hospital for Rheumatology in NC
Where you receive your care matters. Duke University Hospital’s rheumatology program is ranked among the very best in the U.S., and best in North Carolina by U.S. News & World Report for 2019–2020.

Experienced Myositis Care

A Team Approach to Care
Because myositis can be associated with other conditions, you may work with a team of experts including rheumatologistspulmonologists, and neurologists. They work together to develop an effective treatment plan for you and help you manage your condition.

A Commitment to Myositis Research
Our doctors are engaged in research to better understand the causes of myositis and to find treatments that will deliver the best results. This ensures you receive the most effective treatments available.