Myopathy is a condition of painful skeletal muscles.
Cholesterol lowering drugs or statins are generally prescribed by most doctors to reduce heart attack and stroke risk. Usually a person is medically advised to continue statins all through life. However one common side effect is Myopathy, a painful clinical disorder of the skeletal muscles. Myopathy affects people who are more physically active as compared to those who live a sedentary life.
Based on toxicity, Myopathy is classified in three different types namely Myalgia, Myositis and Rhabdomyolysis. Myalgia is a condition of painful muscles. Damage in muscles in this condition is caused by a small increase in the enzyme, creatine kinase. It is through a routine blood test that the condition is detected in the bloodstream. Myositis is condition in which there is weakness, tenderness and pain in the muscles. The bloodstream contains creatine kinase at higher levels in Myositis. Rhabdomyolysis is an extreme type of Myopathy that can threaten life. When creatine kinase levels elevate up to ten times higher than normal values, it leads to breakdown of muscles. Acute renal failure seen in this condition can be fatal.
Symptoms of Myopathy originate in various muscles of the thighs, upper arms, pelvis, shoulders and arms. Muscles of the hands and feet get affected during advanced stage of Myopathy. Stiffness, heaviness and cramps are experienced in lower part of the body. In case of Rhabdomyolysis, damage is caused to the kidneys, urine becomes darker, the muscles weaken besides which severe pain is experienced in muscles in entire part of the body.
Myopathy is associated with a number of risks like low Body Mass Index, more interaction with drugs, people of female sex, excessive intake of grapefruit or cranberry and advanced age of 80 years and above. Type 1 or type 2 diabetes, having kidney disease, untreated hypothyroidism, liver disease and high blood pressure, major surgery and trauma, those doing vigorous exercise and having heavy consumption of alcohol are other risks associated with Myopathy. To rule out Rhabdomyolysis and measure levels of creatine kinase, a blood test is ordered, usually.
What is the treatment of myopathy?
In most situations, normal or just a mild elevation in creatine kinase level is seen. The patient may be advised to avoid consumption of grapefruit juice, strenuous exercise and particular medical conditions include vitamin D deficiency or hypothyroidism. To determine if the muscles ache or it is just a part of aging process, a brief break from statin medication is needed at times. Statin dose may be decreased to reduce pain in muscles or switch to another statin in a smaller dose. The doctor also advises lifestyle habits that are healthy including smoking cessation, moderate exercise, weight loss, healthy diet and dietary supplements like niacin, coenzyme Q10 and vitamin E. Without talking to the doctor, medications for Myopathy treatment must not be taken.