Polymyalgia Rheumatica

Polymyalgia Rheumatica (PMR)

Polymyalgia rheumatica causes widespread aching and stiffness in the body. Symptoms tend to come on quickly, often targeting the upper arms. Patients often experience trouble raising their arms above their shoulders and aching in the joints of the hands and wrists.

Doctors are not sure what causes PMR and it can be difficult to diagnose. Our rheumatologists will perform a physical evaluation and perform blood tests to diagnose PMR. Corticosteroids may be prescribed to relieve the stiffness. Patients sometimes experience a quick improvement of their symptoms after being treated with corticosteroids, while others respond slower. Ibuprofen and naproxen are not effective in treating PMR.

Giant Cell Arteritis

Giant cell arteritis (GCA) is a disease of the blood vessels that can occur with PMR. In GCA, the vessels in the arteries of the scalp and headed are targeted. The most common symptom is a new headache around the temples, but can occur anywhere. Patients also experience fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss or a flu-like feeling. 

GCA can damage eyesight by impacting the blood supply to the eye. This can be treated.

Our rheumatologists will often remove a small piece of the temporal artery to biopsy in order to diagnosis GCA. Doctors often treat this condition with corticosteroids.