Polymyalgia rheumatica is a rheumatic disorder associated with
moderate-to-severe musculoskeletal pain and stiffness in the neck, shoulder,
and hip area. Stiffness is most noticeable in the morning or after a period of
inactivity, and typically lasts longer than 30 minutes. This disorder may
develop rapidly; in some people it comes on literally overnight. But for most
people, polymyalgia rheumatica develops more gradually.
The cause of polymyalgia rheumatica is not known. But it is
associated with immune system problems, genetic factors, and an event, such as
an infection, that triggers symptoms. The fact that polymyalgia rheumatica is
rare in people under the age of 50 and becomes more common as age increases
suggests that it may be linked to the aging process.
Because there is no cure for osteoarthritis (OA), medications focus on pain relief. If you have OA, consider the following risks and benefits of different pain relievers to make the decision that is best for you.
Polymyalgia rheumatica usually resolves within 1 to 2 years.
The symptoms of polymyalgia rheumatica are quickly controlled by treatment with
corticosteroids, but symptoms return if treatment is stopped too early.
Corticosteroid treatment does not appear to influence the length of the
What Is Giant Cell Arteritis?
Giant cell arteritis, also known as temporal arteritis and cranial
arteritis, is a disorder that results in inflammation of arteries of the scalp
(most apparent in the temporal arteries, which are located on the temples on
each side of the head), neck, and arms. This inflammation causes the arteries
to narrow, impeding adequate blood flow. For a good prognosis, it is critical
to receive early treatment, before irreversible tissue damage occurs.
How Are Polymyalgia Rheumatica and Giant Cell Arteritis Related?
It is unclear how or why polymyalgia rheumatica and giant cell
arteritis frequently occur together. But some people with polymyalgia
rheumatica also develop giant cell arteritis either simultaneously, or after
the musculoskeletal symptoms have disappeared. Other people with giant cell
arteritis also have polymyalgia rheumatica at some time while the arteries are
When undiagnosed or untreated, giant cell arteritis can cause
potentially serious problems, including permanent vision loss and stroke. So
regardless of why giant cell arteritis might occur along with polymyalgia
rheumatica, it is important that doctors look for symptoms of the arteritis in
anyone diagnosed with polymyalgia rheumatica.
Patients, too, must learn and watch for symptoms of giant cell
arteritis, because early detection and proper treatment are key to preventing
complications. Any symptoms should be reported to your doctor immediately.