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How is Myositis Diagnosed?

Myositis diagnosis involves medical history evaluation, physical exams, blood tests, EMG, muscle biopsy, and imaging studies to identify inflammation patterns and initiate effective treatment.

  • 09 Feb 2024
  • 2 min read

Myositis, a group of muscle disorders characterised by inflammation, presents complex challenges in terms of diagnosis and management. Diagnosing myositis involves a process of medical evaluation, examinations and diagnostic tests. Individuals experiencing symptoms like muscle weakness, pain and inflammation must understand the factors causing their condition. Myositis has causes, including predispositions, autoimmune responses and environmental triggers.

There are different forms of myositis: polymyositis, dermatomyositis and inclusion body myositis. Let’s explore the journey of identifying and understanding this condition while considering the varied symptoms that act as indicators.

Diagnosis of Myositis

Myositis diagnosis often requires tests, consultations with healthcare professionals and imaging studies. Early and accurate diagnosis is crucial for treatment initiation and effective management of myositis, ultimately improving the outcomes and quality of life for those affected.

  • Medical History

    The first step in diagnosing myositis is evaluating the patient’s history. Healthcare providers will inquire about symptoms when they began and any potential triggers or underlying health conditions that may be relevant. Evaluating medical history helps identify patterns in subtypes of myositis; for example, in dermatomyositis (DM), characteristic skin changes can assist with diagnosis.

  • Physical Examination

    In a physical examination, the doctor will thoroughly assess muscle strength, range of motion and indications of inflammation. Special attention should be given to areas commonly affected by myositis symptoms, such as the shoulders, hips and thighs.

  • Blood Tests

    Blood tests play a role in diagnosing myositis. Elevated levels of certain muscle enzymes like creatine kinase (CK), aldolase and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) can indicate muscle damage. Additionally, these tests can accurately detect and classify specific autoantibodies associated with polymyositis and dermatomyositis, like anti-Jo-1 antibodies.

  • Electromyography (EMG)

    EMG is another tool that measures the electrical activity in muscles. It can identify patterns suggesting myositis. This test helps differentiate between muscle and nerve disorders. EMG is significant in diagnosing myositis subtypes by identifying abnormalities indicating inflammatory myopathies.

  • Muscle Biopsy

    If needed, the physician may conduct a muscle biopsy, extracting a small sample of muscle tissue for laboratory analysis. This helps confirm if there is inflammation present, determine its severity, and identify any specific abnormalities. Performing a muscle biopsy is crucial for ensuring the diagnosis in cases like inclusion body myositis (IBM), where the presence of inclusion bodies in muscle tissue is a key characteristic.

  • Imaging Studies

    Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scans are utilised to visualise muscle inflammation and assess the degree of muscle involvement. Imaging tests help evaluate the extent of muscle involvement in dermatomyositis and polymyositis, where imaging studies can reveal inflammation patterns.

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A personalised approach is necessary to diagnose various types of myositis, taking into account the specific characteristics of each subtype. Utilising multiple tools, including blood tests to identify antibodies and muscle biopsies to pinpoint distinctive pathological features, is crucial for accurate subtype identification. Health insurance coverage is vital in providing access to these diagnostic methods and facilitating comprehensive and individualised management for each type of myositis. Consulting your insurance provider is recommended to understand the coverage for tests and consultations related to myositis.

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