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What is Myopathy?

Myopathy is a group of neuromuscular disorders, characterized by muscle weakness and dysfunction of muscle fibers, caused by abnormalities in the structure and metabolism of muscle cells. Myopathy may be associated with inflammatory conditions, endocrine and infectious diseases, drugs or toxic causes. There are many types of myopathies and they may be either acquired (such as muscle cramps) or inherited (muscular dystrophy).

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Symptoms of Myopathy

Symptoms may also include muscle pain, fatigue, dark-colored urine and muscle atrophy (breakdown). Myopathy in children may show symptoms such as cardiac abnormalities, dyspnea (breathlessness), contractures (stiffness of muscle and joints) and skeletal deformities.

Diagnosis of Myopathy

To diagnose myopathy, your doctor will collect and analyze a detailed medical history and perform a thorough physical examination. Blood tests, urine studies, and thyroid tests may be ordered. Genetic studies may be suggested. You may have to undergo a muscle biopsy (sample of muscle tissue is removed for microscopic examination) and electromyogram (the electric activity of the muscle is measured).

Treatment of Myopathy

If you have inherited myopathy, your treatment is mostly supportive and may include medications, occupational therapy, physical therapy (to improve strength and flexibility of muscles and prevent muscle contractures), nutrition and genetic counseling. In cases of acquired myopathy, the underlying condition is treated with medication. You will be asked to withdraw from any medication causing your myopathy.

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