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.
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.
Symptoms may include:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. There is no single test for PMR. To support the diagnosis and rule out other conditions, tests may include:
If you have PMR, your doctor may also consider the possibility of GCA. Evaluation for GCA includes:
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:
American College of Rheumatology
The Arthritis Society
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Polymyalgia rheumatica. American College of Rheumatology website. Available at: http://www.rheumatology.org/practice/clinical/patients/diseases_and_conditions/polymyalgiarheumatica.asp. Updated February 2013. Accessed June 26, 2013.
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Polymyalgia Rheumatical and giant cell arteritis. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Polymyalgia/default.asp. Accessed June 26, 2013.
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Temporal arteritis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what. Updated September 18, 2012. Accessed June 26, 2013.
Last reviewed June 2013 by Michael J. Fucci, DO; Brian Randall, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.