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Myopathies of systemic disease

David Lacomis, MD
Section Editor
Jeremy M Shefner, MD, PhD
Deputy Editor
John F Dashe, MD, PhD


Skeletal muscle is a complex tissue that is composed of many structural proteins and several energy-producing pathways. Thus, it can be perturbed by a number of systemic disorders.

This topic will review the myopathies associated with endocrine disease, malabsorption, electrolyte disturbance, critical illness, and rheumatic disease.


Endocrine diseases are generally associated with hormonally-mediated systemic alterations in metabolism. At any time during the course of many endocrinopathies, muscle may become affected. The diagnosis of such a myopathy may be more difficult if it is the presenting manifestation of the endocrinopathy.

Hypothyroid myopathy — Muscle disease is a common complication of congenital and adult-onset hypothyroidism. Hypothyroid myopathy is briefly reviewed here and is discussed in greater detail separately. (See "Hypothyroid myopathy".)

Patients with hypothyroidism frequently complain of weakness with or without cramps and myalgias. Patients of all ages and either sex may be affected, but hypothyroidism and therefore hypothyroid myopathy is more common in women. Weakness may be an initial symptom of hypothyroidism, or it may occur years into the course of the endocrinopathy.

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: May 11, 2017.
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