Polymyalgia Rheumatica

Polymyalgia rheumatica is a disorder that causes muscle pain and stiffness in your neck, shoulders, and hips. It is most common in women and almost always occurs in people over 50. The main symptom is stiffness after resting. Other symptoms include fever, weakness and weight loss. In some cases, polymyalgia rheumatica develops overnight. In others, it is gradual.

The cause is not known. There is no single test to diagnose polymyalgia rheumatica. Your doctor will use your medical history, symptoms, and a physical exam to make the diagnosis. Lab tests for inflammation may help confirm the diagnosis.

Polymyalgia rheumatica sometimes occurs along with giant cell arteritis, a condition that causes swelling of the arteries in your head. Symptoms include headaches and blurred vision. Doctors often prescribe prednisone, a steroid medicine, for both conditions. With treatment, polymyalgia rheumatica usually disappears in a day or two. Without treatment, it usually goes away after a year or more.

NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Symptoms of Polymyalgia Rheumatica

The following features are indicative of Polymyalgia Rheumatica:
  • shoulder ache
  • neck pain
  • upper arms pain
  • buttocks pain
  • hip pain
  • pain in thighs
  • stiffness
  • limited range of motion
  • mild fever
  • fatigue
  • loss of appetite
  • unintended weight loss
  • depression
  • malaise
It is possible that Polymyalgia Rheumatica shows no physical symptoms and still is present in a patient.

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Common Causes of Polymyalgia Rheumatica

The following are the most common causes of Polymyalgia Rheumatica:
  • gene variations
  • environmental triggers such as viral infections

Risk Factors for Polymyalgia Rheumatica

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Polymyalgia Rheumatica:
  • people of age more than 73
  • being women
  • White people living in northern European populations
  • people living in geographic region

Prevention of Polymyalgia Rheumatica

No, it is not possible to prevent Polymyalgia Rheumatica.
  • genetic factors

Occurrence of Polymyalgia Rheumatica

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Polymyalgia Rheumatica cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Widely occurring between 500K - 1 Million cases

Common Age Group

Polymyalgia Rheumatica most commonly occurs in the following age group:
  • Aged > 50 years

Common Gender

Polymyalgia Rheumatica can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Polymyalgia Rheumatica

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Polymyalgia Rheumatica:
  • Blood tests: To check the complete blood counts (CBC), erythrocyte sedimentation rate and C-reactive protein
  • Imaging tests: To distinguish polymyalgia rheumatica from other conditions that cause similar symptoms
  • Physical exam: To monitor signs and symptoms that may indicate the onset of giant cell arteritis

Doctor for Diagnosis of Polymyalgia Rheumatica

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Polymyalgia Rheumatica:
  • Rheumatologist

Complications of Polymyalgia Rheumatica if untreated

Yes, Polymyalgia Rheumatica causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Polymyalgia Rheumatica is left untreated:
  • inability to perform everyday activities
  • peripheral arterial disease

Procedures for Treatment of Polymyalgia Rheumatica

The following procedures are used to treat Polymyalgia Rheumatica:
  • Physical therapy: To regain strength, coordination and the ability to perform everyday tasks

Self-care for Polymyalgia Rheumatica

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Polymyalgia Rheumatica:
  • Maintain healthy diet: Help to manage the side effects that may result from corticosteroid treatment
  • Exercise regularly: Helps to maintain a healthy weight and to strengthen bones and muscles
  • Use assistive devices: To make daily tasks easier

Alternative Medicine for Treatment of Polymyalgia Rheumatica

The following alternate medicine and therapies are known to help in the treatment or management of Polymyalgia Rheumatica:
  • Take calcium and vitamin D supplements: To help prevent bone loss

Patient Support for Treatment of Polymyalgia Rheumatica

The following actions may help Polymyalgia Rheumatica patients:
  • Support groups: Talking to others who are living with the same illness and challenges can be helpful and encouraging

Time for Treatment of Polymyalgia Rheumatica

While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for Polymyalgia Rheumatica to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
  • More than 1 year

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Polymyalgia Rheumatica.
Giant Cell Arteritis

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