Testing for Polymialgia
Polymialgia rheumatic or polymialgia is an inflammatory disorder which can cause muscle aches and stiffness affecting the legs, hips, arms and back. The symptoms may develop gradually or for some people it may be overnight. The causes are largely unknown with a faulty immune system, genetic or environmental factors and age all potential keys. It may self resolve in 1-2 years, there are self-care techniques as well as medications that can be used to treat polymialgia also.
The symptoms of polymialgia include: stiffness or aching in the muscles of the thighs, shoulders, hips, upper arms and the neck, excess tiredness or fatigue, unintentional weight loss, weakness, a slight fever (may not be present in all cases) and anemia.
Pain may progress from just one side of the body to both sides. It can also switch areas from day to day. The pain is worse after lying down for prolonged periods and in some cases can be severe enough to wake you at night. A related condition called giant cell arteritis affects 10-20 percent of those with polymialgia trheumatica. This affects the arteries of the temple area of the head.
Common blood tests for polymialgia include:
- Sed Rate: This test measures how quickly the red blood cells settle when placed in a test tube. With inflammation the Sed rate increases, which can also be caused by a number of conditions and illnesses.
- Rheumatoid Factor: Not present in those with polymialgia but present in those with rheumatoid arthritis.RF is an antibody (a protein which is made by the immune system).
- Total Blood Count: People with polymialgia have a higher number of platelets, a condition called thrombocytosis, but then also tend to have lower than average red blood cell counts, which leads to anemia.
- C-Reactive Protein: a substance created by the liver in reaction to infection or injury in the body. Elevated CRP can indicate inflammation.
Commonly the doctor will also test for giant cell arteritis. Symptoms of this condition include headaches, pain when chewing and some visual disturbances.