Strength improves with a careful diet
Updated: April 1, 2013 6:53AM
There is no definitive cause or treatment for polymyositis, but Mike Powell knows it is a burden he must carry for the rest of his life.
Powell, 36, no longer needs a cane to help him walk around the hallways of Oak Park-River Forest, or even for his daily climb up the staircases to the wrestling room that is his second home away from his River Forest residence.
And he reported in December that he could do nine pull-ups.
“I’m getting my muscle back,” he said.
He gets plenty of sleep each day and has changed his diet in an effort to battle the rare muscular disease.
According to the National Institutes of Health website, polymyositis causes chronic muscle inflammation and weakness. It lists symptoms as “difficulty climbing stairs, rising from a seated position, lifting objects, or reaching overhead.”
The NIH warns that in severe cases, patients develop respiratory failure, pneumonia and have difficulty swallowing, which may cause a loss of weight. Polymyositis is associated with both autoimmune and infectious diseases.
Powell told ESPN’s E:60 that he nearly fell down when one of his wrestlers leapt into his arms after a victory in the 2009 state championship match. It was an expected moment of weakness for the former youth football player and Indiana All-American, who finished seventh in the NCAA Championship at 176 pounds.
Treatment varies. Physical therapy, exercise and coritcosteroid medication are common.
Powell said he has been watching what he eats.
“I’m doing great. I’m gluten-free,” Powell said. “That has helped me that I have found a diet. Originally I was on a diet that didn’t work. I also have no fat and no sugar. Gluten-free has changed my life.”
Dr. John A. Robinson, a professor of medicine and microbiology at Loyola University’s Stritch Medical Center, said there is no known connection to polymyositis and a gluten-free diet.
He said lymphocytes, or white blood cells, attack their own muscle fibers, which leads to polymyositis.
“Nobody knows what precipitates it or sets it off,” Robinson said. ~.