A year and a half ago I had never heard of Myositis. But then John came into my life. John is an upbeat older gentleman who has been diagnosed with a condition called Myositis. I'm an acupuncturist, and John called my office because he had fallen several times without warning. He wanted to know if acupuncture could help him.
Myositis, or Inflammatory Myopathy is swelling, inflammation, and deterioration of the muscles. It's a rare condition, affecting only 5-10 people out of every million. This disease causes swelling and loss of muscle tissue. The causes is unknown, but it is thought to be autoimmune in nature. This means that the body's immune system is misdirected and attacks its own normal healthy tissues. The overactive immune cells target the muscles.
There are four different types of Myositis:
- Dermatomyositis (DM)
- Inclusion-Body Myositis (IBM)
- Juvenile forms of Myositis (JM)
- Polymositis (PM)
The differences between these manifestations are related either to age of onset or the parts of the body that are affected. In general signs and symptoms of Myositis include:
- Muscle weakness, sometimes with muscle pain
- General tiredness and fatigue
- Trouble climbing stairs, standing from a seated position, or reaching upward
- Difficulty swallowing
Myositis is diagnosed through blood testing, muscle and skin biopsy, and MRI. Currently there is no cure for Myositis, but it can be controlled with medications, such as Prednisone, and immunosuppressants, such as Methotrexate and Azathioprine. Vitamins and supplements that may be helpful for people suffering from Myositis include Coenzyme Q10, Creatine, Fish Oil, Ginger, Glucosamine, antioxidant vitamins (C, A, E, and D), Calcium and Potassium. Physical therapy and exercise programs are also an important part of treatment for Myositis.
When John asked me if acupuncture could help him, I was unsure, but told him I was willing to give it a try. I treated him several times over the course of many months. Prior to the acupuncture treatments, John was falling about twice a month. He explained that his leg muscles unexpectedly gave out, and he would fall without warning, often hitting is head. After I began working with John, he began falling less frequently, sometimes going for a couple of months in between falls. I have found by working with John, that acupuncture is not a cure for Myositis, but it can help dramatically with the symptoms of this condition.
Acupuncture can be a very effective treatment for a variety of conditions, either as an adjunct to standard Western treatments or on its own. According to Chinese medical theory, acupuncture works because we humans have a natural flow of energy throughout our body. Actually, we know that every cell in our body produces this energy; the Chinese simply believe that it flows through a series of pathways. When that energy becomes blocked in one or more of the pathways, the energy becomes like a dam in a river. There is too much pressure on one side of the dam, and a restriction of flow on the other. This "energy dam" in the body can produce a variety of symptoms; one of the most common being pain.
By inserting very fine, sterile acupuncture needles into specific points on your body, an acupuncturist can break up these blockages that restrict the flow of energy. By stimulating these points, the energy can move smoothly, enabling your body to heal itself.
Beyond acupuncture, treatment for Myositis might include electro-stimulation, heat, and Chinese body work called Tui Na. With John I used a combination of acupuncture, electro-stimulation and heat. I look forward to helping John continue to manage his symptoms and keep from falling.