MYOSITISChronic Muscle Inflammation
Chronic muscle inflammation in conventional medicine
A general term for inflammation of the muscles in conventional medicine is myositis. Myositis is a connective tissue and autoimmune disease. The body’s own immune system makes proteins called “antibodies” for protection against viruses, bacteria and other foreign bodies. In myositis the immune system is unable to tell the difference between foreign bodies and its own cells and tissues. The immune system makes “auto-antibodies” directed against its own cells and tissues. The build up of these “auto-antibodies” in the tissues causes inflammation, pain and muscle damage.
Myositis includes Polymyositis, Dermatomyositis, Inclusion Body Myositis, Juvenile Myositis and Toxic Myositis. In all of these conditions, the voluntary muscles undergo degenerative changes due to inflammation. The main symptom is muscular weakness that may be progressive and can be severely disabling, affecting in the majority of cases the whole body. The large muscles about the hips and shoulders are usually the first to be affected. The weakness results in difficulty in walking, lifting arms and getting up from the sitting and lying down positions. There may even be some trouble in swallowing and the voice may become nasal in quality. Other muscles sometimes affected are those in the neck making it difficult to raise the head when lying down. The disease can be accompanied by depression and a general feeling of tiredness and fatigue.
Chronic muscle inflammation in Chinese medicine
In traditional Chinese medicine the condition that is congruent with muscle inflammation is called "Wei syndrome". Wei syndrome includes weakness of the limbs, impairment of movement of the limbs, and at late stages muscular atrophy. It is most often seen affecting the lower extremities. In translation "Wei" means withered, as in plants when they fail to receive a sufficient supply of water and nutrients. Similarly, atrophy can be seen when muscles, tendons and bones are deprived of nourishment.
Wei syndrome can be caused by ‘invasion’ of pathogenic factors – wind, damp, cold, heat and their combinations. The highest prevalence of Wei syndrome is in cold damp countries. The pathogenic factors obstruct free flow of energy and blood and cause insufficient nourishment of limbs. Another possible cause of Wei syndrome is weakness of digestive system, irregular food intake or overeating. Overeating and irregular food intake results in weakening of digestive system. If the digestive system is weak, it fails to produce sufficient nutrients for muscle nourishment. Overworking, congenital insufficiency, longstanding illness and excessive sexual activity may damage the energy of liver and kidneys. This leads to insufficiency of energy, blood and body fluids and malnutrition of tendons, muscles and meridians.
Chinese medicine has been used very successfully for reducing swelling and inflammation in muscles. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can help balance the immune system and pacify the overactive autoimmune immune response. They can also help manage the further deterioration of muscles.
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