Polymyalgia rheumatica guide

You should be given a steroid card to carry with you at all times, so other health professionals know what you’re taking. The good news is that most people with polymyalgia will see their symptoms completely disappear after one or two years. However, a few will need to continue on a small dose of medication for longer. Age and activity related changes to the joints of the shoulder which can lead to pain and stiffness.

  • Some patients experience swelling or stiffness of small joints in the hands and feet.
  • However, a few will need to continue on a small dose of medication for longer.
  • If you’re taking a DMARD it’s important to have regular check-ups, blood pressure checks and blood tests to check for potential side effects.

The condition, known as PMR, most commonly starts after the age of 60, though it can start as early as 50 and it affects women more often than men. Polymyalgia rheumatica is a condition that causes inflammation of muscles which can lead to pain and stiffness. This normally affects the muscles of the shoulders, hips and neck. PMR is believed to be an autoimmune disease, where your body can’t tell the difference between your own cells and foreign, harmful ones, resulting in the body attacking itself.

What Is Polymyalgia Rheumatica (PMR)?

There may be more general symptoms of fatigue, weight loss and a slightly raised temperature. This is more likely if the steroid dose is reduced too quickly. Relapse requires restarting or increasing the steroid dose.

  • Your doctor will take into account your medical history, your symptoms and will undertake a physical examination.
  • This is so effective it can confirm diagnosis, with improvement often seen within days.
  • During these appointments, you’ll have blood tests to check the levels of inflammation inside your body.
  • In polymayalgia rheumatica however, they are often the only effective treatment and may be used as a single agent.

However, there are no definitive studies that can confirm any of these factors are a direct cause of polymyalgia rheumatica. Whilst the cause of polymyalgia rheumatica is unknown, it is believed that the disorder develops due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Being able to tolerate the side-effects is as important as the treatment’s effectiveness.

How is PMR diagnosed?

PMR is a debilitating condition and most of the complications that individuals face is related to the need for steroids. Weight gain, brittle bones, diabetes and high blood pressure are all things to watch out for. Some people with PMR may also develop giant cell arteritis (GCA) which is a condition causing inflammation of blood vessels.

Do polymyalgia rheumatica treatments have side effects?

These include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) scans. Follow-up appointments are usually recommended every few weeks for the first 3 months, and then at 3 to 6 monthly intervals after this time. The stiffness is often worse first thing in the morning after you wake up. It starts to improve after about 45 minutes as you become more active.

Doctors often advise patients to take extra calcium and vitamin D, and sometimes they may prescribe a “bone hardener” medication to take along with Prednisone. Stopping prednisone too quickly can sometimes result in serious side-effects. Patients should call their doctor before making any changes to their dose.

Self-help and daily living

You’ll also have blood tests to check for any inflammation in your body, and to rule out other conditions. The symptoms are different from the ache you may feel after exercise that your body isn’t used to. The pain and stiffness from polymyalgia rheumatica is often widespread, and is worse when resting or after rest. To start with, you may be prescribed a moderate dose of prednisolone.

Around 50% of people who are diagnosed with GCA develop polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR). PMR is a condition that causes best sites to buy steroids online inflammation in and around the joints. A small proportion of patients with PMR may develop GCA at a later date.