How Are Poly myalgia Rheumatica and Giant Cell Arteritis Diagnosed?
There is no definitive test for poly myalgia rheumatic. The conclusion of the diagnosis will be based upon the history, patient’s presenting symptoms and physical examination. Lab tests like blood work are usually used to confirm the diagnosis and rule out any other causative factors for the presenting symptoms.
Most common findings for people with poly myalgia rheumatic is an elevated sed rate or erythrocyte sedimentation rate. This test is for inflammation and looks at the settling of red blood cells in a test tube. An elevated sed rate will indicate inflammation. A helpful test, but sed rate alone cannot confirm poly myalgia rheumatic, it only indicates that inflammation is present which is common in many forms of arthritis and other rheumatic diseases.
Additional testing that may be ordered includes a C-reactive protein test, which is another common means of measuring inflammation. Other test may look for rheumatoid factor (an antibody) that is commonly found in people with rheumatoid arthritis. Although there are some similarities between the two conditions, those with poly myalgia rheumatica rarely test positive for rheumatoid factor. The diagnosis of giant cell arteritis, like poly myalgia rheumatica is largely based on symptoms and the physical exam. The temple arteries may appear inflamed and tender to the touch.
If your doctor suspects giant cell arteritis they will order a temporal artery biopsy. This involves removing a small section of the artery and examining it. Upon examination if positive the artery wall will show abnormal cells.