Definition

Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) is an inflammatory disorder. It results in muscle pain and stiffness in the body. The effects are most common in the shoulders, arms, hips, and thighs. About 15% of people with PMR will also develop giant cell arteritis (GCA). GCA is an inflammation of the lining of the arteries, the blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart.

Giant Cell Arteritis

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Causes

The exact cause is not known. Inflammatory conditions may be due to some problem with the immune system. Some evidence suggests that certain viruses could be responsible for PMR. Genetic factors may also play a role.

Risk Factors

PMR is most common in Caucasian women, aged 65 years and older.

Symptoms

Symptoms may include:

    
  • Muscle pain and/or stiffness in the hip, shoulder, or neck areas
  • Stiffness in the morning
  • Fever
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Mood changes
  • Diagnosis

    You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

    Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with:

        
  • Blood tests
  • Muscle biopsy
  • Images may be taken of your bodily structures. This can be done with:

        
  • CT scan
  • MRI scan
  • Treatment

    Symptoms of PMR will disappear without treatment within several months to years. Treatment leads to dramatic improvement, which may occur within 24-48 hours.

    Treatment may include:

        
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Corticosteroids
  • Supplements, such as calcium or vitamin D
  • Physical therapy to help with strength, flexibility, and mobility
  • Prevention

    There are current guidelines to prevent PMR.