Treatment of Polymyalgia Rheumatica and Giant Cell Arteritis
What is the treatment for polymyalgia?
If the polymyalgia is mild you may be recommended a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicine (NSAIDs). Commonly known medicines include aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen. For GCA the use of NSAIDs will not work.
If needed your doctor may prescribe a corticosteroid for the treatment of inflammation and pain associated with Giant Cell Arteritis and severe polymyalgia. These medications are usually in oral form in a pill. There are associated side effects with these medications and your doctor will monitor you.
What other treatment for polymyalgia can I do to ease the symptoms of the condition?
A healthy diet and getting enough exercise can help alleviate the symptoms of both GCA and Polymyalgia.
What is giant cell arteritis?
Arteritis is a condition of inflammation of the arteries. Arteries are the blood vessels that carry oxygen through the body.
Giant cell arteritis (GCA) that affects the arteries that are around the temples of the head is sometimes called temporal arteritis or cranial arteritis.
What are the symptoms of GCA?
The symptoms of GCA can include:
- Pain and tenderness in one or both temples
- Severe headaches
- Vision loss or disturbances
- Jaw pain, especially when chewing
- Unintentional weight loss
- Pain and stiffness in the neck and arms
How is GCA diagnosed?
A biopsy of the temporal artery is needed to confirm the diagnosis. This usually involves, a small piece of the temporal artery is removed and looked at under a microscope. Your doctor may also order blood tests to check for inflammation markers and rule out any other conditions.
What is polymyalgia rheumatica?
Polymyalgia rheumatica is a condition in which the muscles in your thighs, hips, neck and shoulders become inflamed. This causes aching and stiffness in these areas. Polymyalgia rheumatica is also known as PMR.
What are the symptoms of PMR?
The symptoms of PMR can include:
- Aching pain and stiffness in the hips, shoulders, neck and thighs
- Muscle weakness may be present but is usually due to pain not true weakness.
- Decreased movement in joints
- Unintended weight loss
How is PMR diagnosed?
Physical exams are likely to be fairly unremarkable. Your doctor may order blood tests to look at inflammation markers and blood count. Further testing may include a muscle biopsy.
How are GCA and PMR related?
Between 10-20% of people who have PMR also have GCA. Approximately 50% of people with GCA also have PMR. GCA can develop after PMR has resolved or they can have these diseases at the same time.
What causes these conditions?
No one knows for certain what causes the inflammation but genetic factors and ageing have been implicated.
Who gets these conditions?
Caucasian people are more likely to develop GCA and PMR than other races. You are more likely to develop GCA and PMR if you are older than 50 years of age. The most common sufferers are women between 70 and 80 years of age.