You'll probably first bring your symptoms to the attention of your family doctor. He or she might refer you to a doctor who specializes in the treatment of arthritis and other diseases of the joints, muscles and bone (rheumatologist) or to a doctor who specializes in disorders of the nervous system (neurologist).
What you can do
When you go in to see your doctor, be sure to have a record of your symptoms. Although it may be difficult to pinpoint when symptoms started, try to estimate when you first noticed weakness, and which muscles have been affected. You may want to write a list that includes:
- Detailed descriptions of your symptoms, including which muscles are affected
- Information about medical problems you've had
- Information about the medical problems of your parents or siblings
- All the medications and dietary supplements you take
- Questions you want to ask the doctor
Prepare a list of questions ahead of time to help make the most of your limited time with your doctor. For polymyositis, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What is likely causing my symptoms?
- Are there other possible causes for my symptoms?
- Are my symptoms likely to change over time?
- What kind of tests might I need? Are any special preparations required?
- Are treatments available for my condition? What treatments do you recommend?
- I have other medical conditions. How can I best manage them together?
- Do you have any brochures or other printed material that I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment if you think of something new.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor will likely ask you several questions, such as:
- When did you first notice muscle weakness?
- Did your condition develop gradually or did it come on suddenly?
- Are you easily fatigued during waking hours?
- What other symptoms are you experiencing?
- Does your condition limit your activities?
- Has anyone in your family ever been diagnosed with a disease or condition that affects the muscles?
- Are you currently taking any medications or dietary supplements?
- What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
- What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?