Inclusion Body Myositis (IBM) affects older men in Chapel Hill, Durham and Carrboro, NC

June 22, 2013 | By Lorenzo Mejia

One of our clients suffers from Inclusion Body Myositis, also known as IBM.  If you have not heard of this affliction yet, you may well hear of it in upcoming years.

IBM is a disease in which the muscles, especially those of the arms and legs, become inflamed, weaken and waste away over time.  The prefix “myo” means muscle and “itis” means inflammation.  So, myositis refers to inflammation of muscles.

Symptoms sometimes present themselves more commonly on one side of the body.  In some cases, the disorder first begins with weakness in the fingers and wrists, and the loss of muscle mass in the forearms and quadriceps (thigh muscles).

IBM presents itself in two forms:  hereditary (hIBM) and sporadic (sIBM)

At a high level, Inclusion Body Myositis has similarities to the inflammation associated with dementias, particularly Alzheimer’s and Lewy Body disease.  In all of these conditions, abnormal proteins are deposited in the cells.  In both IBM and Alzheimer’s, as well as Parkinsonism (another affliction we see in seniors that we serve in our home care business serving the Chapel Hill, Durham and Carrboro area) the protein deposits are all amyloid in nature.   It seems that the common thread is that these protein deposits affect the performance of the mitochondria.

IBM is occurs more frequently with age.  The incidence in the overall population is about 15 per million, with the rate rising to 51 per million among people older than 50.  It occurs more frequently among men.  Symptoms grow over time, taking months and years to manifest themselves.   As the disease progresses, the patient loses control of arm and leg muscles.  Eventually, the individual will need assistance with many activities of daily living.

Inclusion Body Myositis is not considered fatal.  IBM does not appear to meaningfully affect life expectancy.  However, people who suffer from this are at greater risk from fall injury.  Also, as with various forms of dementia, the patient may lose control of the ability to swallow (a complication known as dysphagia).

There is currently no cure for this disease.  Nor is there any suggested medical management.  Given its inflammatory nature, one would think that maintaining an anti-inflammatory diet can only help.  In other words, emphasize whole grains, lean proteins, plenty of fruits and vegetables, and avoid as much as possible all sorts of refined sugars and carbohydrates.

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