Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR)

What is polymyalgia rheumatica?

Polymyalgia rheumatica, often referred to as PMR, is a disease that causes pain, stiffness and limited mobility in the neck, back of the neck, shoulders, arms, hips, trunk, pelvic girdle and thighs. This condition, of unknown origin, is only suffered by people over 50 years of age. The pain, which does not cause swelling, appears after rest, usually at night. Also, inactivity, such as a long car journey or prolonged sitting in one position, can cause the stiffness to return. In addition, it is very common for patients to have problems lifting the upper arms above the shoulders. Today, the most effective treatment for PMR is low-dose corticosteroids.

Prognosis of the disease

In most people, PMR disappears on its own thanks to the treatment that has been followed for 1 to 2 years. One of the solutions may be to stop medication at this stage, but always consult your doctor. More complicated symptoms may cause the patient to stop working or even need the help of a family member at home.

Symptoms of polymyalgia rheumatica

Pain and a feeling of stiffness in the shoulders and neck are the main symptoms of this disease. This pain can often be transmitted to the hip. Fatigue can be another characteristic symptom. People suffering from this disease find it increasingly difficult to get out of bed and start their daily activity. Among other symptoms can be found:

  • Hair loss which is succeeded by loss of appetite.
  • Depression
  • Fever
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Fever, depression, and hair loss may be some of its symptoms

Medical tests for polymyalgia rheumatica

Laboratory tests are not sufficient to diagnose PMR. Most patients with this disease have high markers of inflammation, high erythrocyte sedimentation rate, and high C-reactive protein. Other test results for this condition include:

  • Abnormal blood protein levels.
  • Abnormal white blood cell level
  • Anemia (low blood count)

These tests may also be done to monitor the patient’s condition.

What causes polymyalgia rheumatica?

Although the cause of the disease is unknown, the disease usually develops in people over the age of 50. One of the diseases that can trigger PMR is temporal arteritis. PMR is a condition in which the blood vessels that carry blood to the head and eyes become inflamed. It is sometimes complicated to diagnose PMR and not to confuse it with rheumatoid arthritis in an older person.

Can it be prevented?

Currently there is no way to prevent it.

Treatments for polymyalgia rheumatica

If the patient does not take any treatment, it will not improve. But small amounts of food intake may relieve symptoms within a day or two. However, there are a couple of precautions:

  • After this, the dose can be slowly reduced to a very low level.
  • It is necessary to continue treatment for 1 to 2 years. In some patients the treatment can be longer with small doses of prednisone.

Corticosteroids can cause a wide range of side effects. If the patient is taking this type of medication, he/she will need to be monitored more closely.

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Which specialist treats it?

The specialist who treats polymyalgia rheumatica is the rheumatologist. Top Doctors offers the patient any kind of information in order to facilitate the booking of the patient’s appointment. The patient will be able to choose the specialist that best suits his or her needs on-line.