Polymyalgia Rheumatica

polymyalgia rheumatica

What is Polymyalgia Rheumatica?

Polymyalgia Rheumatica (PMR) is a common cause of aching and stiffness that occurs in adults over 50 localized to the shoulders, neck or hips. These symptoms are worse in the morning and improve with activity.

What are the symptoms of Polymyalgia Rheumatica?

The symptoms of Polymyalgia Rheumatica (PMR) tend initially occur over a period of weeks or days. Both sides of the body are equally affected. Symptoms of PMR are profound stiffness and achiness in the shoulder and hip areas. Difficulty raising the arms overhead is common. Occasionally patients will have aching in the joints of their hands and wrists.

How is Polymyalgia Rheumatica diagnosed?

The characteristic neck, shoulder and hip distribution of pain are an important factor in the correct diagnosis of PMR. However, patients with PMR will also typically have very elevated markers of inflammation such as an Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR) and C-reactive Protein (CRP).

What treatments are available for Polymyalgia Rheumatica?

A characteristic of Polymyalgia Rheumatica that distinguishes it from other conditions is its dramatic and rapid response to treatment with low-dose corticosteroids such as prednisone. The challenge with the management of PMR is the slow tapering of prednisone that may take over a year to completely wean off and may require the addition of other medications.