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Polymyalgia rheumatica

Polymyalgia rheumatica: Introduction

Polymyalgia rheumatica is disorder that affects large muscle groups in the body with episodes of pain and stiffness. Polymyalgia rheumatica is generally a disorder of older adults over the age of 50 and affects twice as many women as men. In general, the older a person is, the higher the risk of developing the condition.

The cause of polymyalgia rheumatica is not known, but it may be due to an abnormal response of the immune system. In an autoimmune disorder, the body's immune system mistakes healthy tissues as foreign and potentially dangerous invaders into the body and attacks them. This results in inflammation and may lead to the painful symptoms of polymyalgia rheumatica.

The symptoms of polymyalgia rheumatica usually appear suddenly and are moderate to severe. The hallmark symptoms are pain and stiffness on the neck, hips, and shoulders. About 15 percent of people with polymyalgia rheumatica develop a potentially serious complication called temporal arteritis, which includes additional symptoms. For more details on symptoms, refer to symptoms of polymyalgia rheumatica.

Making a diagnosis of polymyalgia rheumatica begins with taking a thorough medical history, including symptoms, and completing a physical examination. There is no precise test to diagnose polymyalgia rheumatica. Medical tests generally include a variety of blood tests that are nonspecific, but their results may increase the suspicion of a diagnosis of polymyalgia rheumatica. These tests include a complete blood count (CBC), which can reveal anemia, one of the symptoms of polymyalgia rheumatica. They also include an erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), which can reveal an inflammatory process occurring in the body.

Tests are also done to rule out other conditions with similar symptoms, such as rheumatoid arthritis.

It is possible that a diagnosis of polymyalgia rheumatica can be missed or delayed because the disease may appear similar to other conditions or diseases, such as aging, influenza, and fibromyalgia. For more information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of polymyalgia rheumatica.

Polymyalgia rheumatica usually disappears on its own without treatment. However this can take several years. In the meantime treatment can be very effective in relieving symptoms and helping people to live normal, active lives. Treatment varies depending on the severity of symptoms, the presence of complications, a person's age and medical history, and other factors. Treatment can include a combination of medication, regular exercise, and eating a healthy diet. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of polymyalgia rheumatica. ...more »

Polymyalgia rheumatica: A rheumatic disease that involves tendons, muscles, ligaments, and tissues around the joints. Pain, aching, and morning stiffness in the neck, ... more about Polymyalgia rheumatica.

Polymyalgia rheumatica: A condition characterized by muscle pain and stiffness, fatigue and fever. It is often associated with giant-cell arteritis which is a related but more serious condition. More detailed information about the symptoms, causes, and treatments of Polymyalgia rheumatica is available below.

Polymyalgia rheumatica: Symptoms

The types and severity of symptoms of polymyalgia rheumatica varies between individuals. However, most people experience moderate to severe pain and stiffness in the neck, shoulders, and hips. Pain and stiffness tends to be most severe in the morning or after a period of inactivity. This discomfort generally lasts longer than 30 minutes.

Other symptoms ...more symptoms »

Polymyalgia rheumatica: Treatments

There is no cure for polymyalgia rheumatica, but the disorder usually goes away by itself within one to four years. However, with early recognition and treatment, it is possible to minimize the pain and stiffness and other symptoms so that people with the disorder can lead productive lives.

The most successful treatment plans include a multipronged approach that may ...more treatments »

Polymyalgia rheumatica: Misdiagnosis

A diagnosis of polymyalgia rheumatica may be delayed or missed because some symptoms, such as fatigue, weight loss, muscle pain, and can be vague and attributed to other conditions as such as aging, depression, perimenopause, and excessive exercise. Other symptoms such as fever, joint pain, and malaise, as similar to symptoms for such conditions as influenza, ...more misdiagnosis »

Symptoms of Polymyalgia rheumatica

Treatments for Polymyalgia rheumatica

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Polymyalgia rheumatica: Related Patient Stories

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Polymyalgia rheumatica: Complications

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Causes of Polymyalgia rheumatica

Read more about causes of Polymyalgia rheumatica.

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Disease Topics Related To Polymyalgia rheumatica

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Polymyalgia rheumatica: Undiagnosed Conditions

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Misdiagnosis and Polymyalgia rheumatica

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Polymyalgia rheumatica: Research Doctors & Specialists

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Evidence Based Medicine Research for Polymyalgia rheumatica

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Polymyalgia rheumatica: Animations

Prognosis for Polymyalgia rheumatica

Prognosis for Polymyalgia rheumatica: condition can go into remission and rarely results in permanent disability

Research about Polymyalgia rheumatica

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Clinical Trials for Polymyalgia rheumatica

The US based website lists information on both federally and privately supported clinical trials using human volunteers.

Some of the clinical trials listed on for Polymyalgia rheumatica include:

Statistics for Polymyalgia rheumatica

Polymyalgia rheumatica: Broader Related Topics

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Article Excerpts about Polymyalgia rheumatica

Questions and Answers About Arthritis and Rheumatic Diseases: NIAMS (Excerpt)

A rheumatic disease that involves tendons, muscles, ligaments, and tissues around the joints. Pain, aching, and morning stiffness in the neck, shoulders, lower back, and hips characterize the disease. It is sometimes the first sign of giant cell arteritis (a disease of the arteries characterized by inflammation, weakness, weight loss, and fever). (Source: excerpt from Questions and Answers About Arthritis and Rheumatic Diseases: NIAMS)

Questions and Answers About Polymyalgia Rheumatica and Giant Cell Arteritis: NIAMS (Excerpt)

Polymyalgia rheumatica is a rheumatic disorder that is associated with moderate to severe muscle pain and stiffness in the neck, shoulder, and hip area. Stiffness is most noticeable in the morning. This disorder may develop rapidly--in some patients, overnight. In other people, polymyalgia rheumatica develops more gradually. (Source: excerpt from Questions and Answers About Polymyalgia Rheumatica and Giant Cell Arteritis: NIAMS)

Definitions of Polymyalgia rheumatica:

A syndrome in the elderly characterized by proximal joint and muscle pain, high erythrocyte sedimentation rate, and a self-limiting course. Pain is usually accompanied by evidence of an inflammatory reaction. Women are affected twice as commonly as men and Caucasians more frequently than other groups. The condition is frequently associated with TEMPORAL ARTERITIS and some theories pose the possibility that the two diseases arise from a single etiology or even that they are the same entity. - (Source - Diseases Database)

Polymyalgia rheumatica is listed as a "rare disease" by the Office of Rare Diseases (ORD) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This means that Polymyalgia rheumatica, or a subtype of Polymyalgia rheumatica, affects less than 200,000 people in the US population.
Source - National Institutes of Health (NIH)


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