Polymialgia – What Does It Mean?
Polymialgia is a syndrome or condition which affects the musculature of the neck and shoulder area and pelvis muscles with stiffness and aching. There should be no weakness in the affected muscles. Some weakness may be present due to pain only. This syndrome is most likely to occur in the over 50 age group. At present there is not a specific laboratory test for polymialgia, but doctor use a combination of factors like the patient’s symptom history, the findings of the physical exam and blood test that help to identify inflammation markers.
Polymialgia has distinctive symptoms that prevent it being confused with other types of arthritis or pain syndromes like fibromyalgia. The standard medical approach of corticosteroid treatment will also be discussed. Lastly nutritional supplements that may assist the condition will be touched upon.
The most common symptoms of polymialgia are muscle stiffness and pain, these symptoms will be the basis of the chief complaint. On average the shoulder area is the first problematic place with pain also extending to the neck, upper arms, upper back, lower back and hip region. The pain is commonly on both sides of the body and can be severe with an aching quality. Movement of the affected joints makes the pain worse but the pain is not common from the joints. It is believed the pain arises from the muscles or tendons insertions. The stiffness experienced can be similar to rheumatoid arthritis. It is worse in the morning and will ease with movement and during times of inactivity or prolonged stillness, such as sitting in a car it will be exaggerated. The pain and stiffness may occur quickly or the onset can be a gradual one.
The common approach for treatment may include non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs. This is probably more effective for those suffering milder symptoms of polymialgia. However, two thirds of people who originally start on NSAIDs will find they need to switch to corticosteroid treatment. Many doctors will opt for a drug called prednisone as the choice of treament. The dosage will usually be around 5-20mg of prednisone per day.
Nutritional supplements can be a compliment or alternative to medication. There are plenty of supplements that have been shown to be beneficial at helping with anti-inflammation. For example fish oil which is easily purchased at health stores can help ease inflammation. Magnesium is a mineral that also assists in decreasing pain and helping muscle stiffness. Another supplement growing in popularity is a derivative of the Indian spice tumeric, called curcumin which can also break the inflammation cycle. Vitamin E was demonstrated in studies on animals to reverse the inflammation pattern and recent research with arthritis victims showed a big reduction in their pain levels. In combination with Vitamin E, the popular Vitamin C can work wonders and has been widely accepted for its ability to ease inflammation.
Polymialgia is a troublesome and painful condition. The symptoms of sore and stiff muscles can really have an impact on everyday activities and general movements. Treatment can take the form of medical treatment with prednisone or with supplements that are natural alternatives.