Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Polymyalgia Rheumatica Overview

What is polymyalgia rheumatica?
A person with polymyalgia rheumatica has inflammation of muscles in the neck, shoulders, upper arms, hips, and thighs. Symptoms are similar to arthritis, but not as severe. Polymyalgia rheumatica may result from an abnormal immune system, which normally fights infection. For some reason, the immune system attacks normal muscle tissue. The cause of the abnormal immune system in polymyalgia rheumatica is unknown. Polymyalgia rheumatica may start suddenly, but rarely lasts for longer than two years.

What are the symptoms of polymyalgia rheumatica?
Common symptoms of polymyalgia rheumatica include hip pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, arm pain, leg pain, muscle pain, muscle stiffness, and joint stiffness. Additional symptoms of polymyalgia rheumatica may include depression, fatigue, fever, weakness, and weight loss.

How does the doctor treat polymyalgia rheumatica?
Treatment for polymyalgia rheumatica may include physical therapy, calcium supplements, oral corticosteroids, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain.

Continue to Polymyalgia Rheumatica Incidence

Last Updated: Oct 25, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Polymyalgia Rheumatica References
  1. Bird HA, Leeb BF, Montecucco CM, Misiuniene N, Nesher G, Pai S, Pease C, Rovensky J, Rozman B. A comparison of the sensitivity of diagnostic criteria for polymyalgia rheumatica. Ann Rheum Dis. 2005 Apr;64(4):626-9. [15769919]
  2. Caporali R, Cimmino MA, Ferraccioli G, Gerli R, et al. Systemic Vasculitis Study Group of the Italian Society for Rheumatology. Prednisone plus methotrexate for polymyalgia rheumatica: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Ann Intern Med. 2004 Oct 5;141(7):493-500. [15466766]
  3. Salvarani C, Cantini F, Boiardi L, Hunder GG. Polymyalgia rheumatica. Best Pract Res Clin Rheumatol. 2004 Oct;18(5):705-22. [15454128]
  4. Spiera R, Spiera H. Inflammatory diseases in older adults: polymyalgia rheumatica. Geriatrics. 2004 Nov;59(11):39-43. [15615159]
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