Sporadic Inclusion Body Myositis

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

What does the name “inclusion body myositis” mean?

Inclusion body myositis (IBM) is a disease characterized by:

  • Small abnormal particles called “inclusion bodies” that can be seen inside muscle cells when they are viewed with a microscope
  • Muscle inflammation (myo = muscle, -itis = inflammation)

Why is it sometimes called “sporadic” inclusion body myositis (sIBM)?

Inclusion body myositis is often called sporadic inclusion body myositis, or sIBM, to indicate that it is not inherited, but rather seems to occur at random. In general, inclusion body myositis does not run in families. There are extremely rare cases of two siblings in the same family having inclusion body myositis; this has been called familial inclusion body myositis. Also, recent research has shown that a few sporadic inclusion body myositis patients have mutations in genes known to be involved in muscle diseases. However, these situations are unusual, and gene mutations have not been found in most sIBM patients.

How do you pronounce myositis?


Do people die from inclusion body myositis?

People with IBM generally have a normal or near-normal lifespan, and die of other causes. Some patients with swallowing difficulties die from aspiration pneumonia, caused when food or liquid enters the lungs.

How common is IBM?

IBM is a rare disease, and the exact prevalence of the disease is unknown. Medical studies have provided varying answers. The occurrence of the disease may not be the same in all geographic areas and ethnic groups. Also, IBM is often undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, so surveys may not discover all of the actual cases. A common estimate is that about 20,000 people in the United States have inclusion body myositis.

Is IBM contagious?

Does it affect men and women equally?

IBM is somewhat more common in men.

Is there any treatment?

There is no effective drug treatment for most people with inclusion body myositis. Exercise and physical therapy can be useful to help maintain physical function for as long as possible. Many things can be done to manage the disease and improve the lives of people with IBM.

Is inclusion body myopathy the same as inclusion body myositis?

No. The word “myopathy” refers to muscle disease, while “myositis” refers to muscle inflammation. Hereditary inclusion body myopathy, or hIBM, refers to a group of very rare genetic disorders that cause muscle weakness that usually starts in young adulthood. HIBM patients usually have different patterns of muscle weakness than inclusion body myositis patients. Although muscle degeneration, with inclusion bodies in muscle cells, is seen under the microscope in hIBM, just like in sIBM, muscle inflammation is generally not present in hIBM.

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