What is Polymyalgia Rheumatica?

Polymyalgia Rheumatica is an autoimmune condition that causes inflammation, pain and stiffness within the body – on both sides. It most commonly affects the arms, neck, shoulders and hips. The symptoms of Polymyalgia Rheumatica can be difficult to diagnose as they are similar to many other conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis. Some of the main symptoms of Polymyalgia Rheumatica include muscle stiffness upon waking in the morning, extreme tiredness, depression, appetite loss and weight loss. Polymyalgia Rheumatica affects the muscle mass as opposed to the bones. The condition is mostly age-related and is commonly diagnosed in people over the age of 70, although rare in people younger than 50. It’s also more common in women than men.

What Causes Polymyalgia Rheumatica?

While the cause of Polymyalgia Rheumatica remains unknown, it’s believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Polymyalgia Rheumatica most commonly impacts women, at a ratio of 2:1, being the predominant cause of soreness in the Western World. There are various environmental factors that can play a role in developing Polymyalgia Rheumatica. Viral infection may be a major cause of the condition as symptoms can occur suddenly. Visiting your doctor for a diagnosis is one of the best ways to determine if you have Polymyalgia Rheumatica or similar conditions such as Arthritis and Lupus. Following a physical exam and several tests, inflammation and blood abnormalities can be determined.  

Polymyalgia Rheumatica Symptoms

For one in five people, Polymyalgia Rheumatica may develop into giant cell arteritis. This is a severe that causes inflammation in the arteries of the head and neck. Symptoms of Giant Cell Arteritis may include a severe headache that develops suddenly, pain in the jaw muscles when eating or vision problems such as double vision or vision loss. This condition requires immediate medical attention as if it’s not treated immediately, it can cause permanent sight loss.

Treatments For Polymyalgia Rheumatica

Using corticosteroid medication called Prednisolone is the main source of Polymyalgia Rheumatica treatment. It’s also used for relieving painful symptoms. Many Polymyalgia Rheumatica sufferers find that they need to have a course of corticosteroid treatments. They last for 18 months to 2 years, to prevent symptoms from returning. As steroid treatment can affect the bones, potentially increasing the risk of Osteoporosis, it’s important to get enough Calcium and Vitamin D for strong and healthy bones. By managing your health through lifestyle factors, you can minimise the risk of any painful symptoms associated with the condition. Eating a diet with plenty of calcium and Vitamin D, avoiding smoking and drinking will keep you healthy. Doing weight bearing exercises can all keep your body strong if using steroid tablets. Walking is usually one of the most suitable exercises for people with Polymyalgia Rheumatica sufferers. If symptoms of your condition don’t improve from taking the medication – then there may be other causes behind the pain and stiffness. Additional tests may be required to check for other rheumatic disorders like osteoarthritis and rheumatic fever.