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A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia [Internet]. Atlanta (GA): A.D.A.M.; 2013.

A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia [Internet].

Polymyalgia rheumatica

Last reviewed: February 21, 2013.

Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) is an inflammatory disorder. It involves pain and stiffness in the shoulder and often the hip.

Causes

Polymyalgia rheumatica most often occurs in people over 50 years old. The cause is unknown.

PMR may occur before or with giant cell arteritis (also called temporal arteritis), in which blood vessels that supply blood to the head become inflamed.

Symptoms

The most common symptom is pain and stiffness in both shoulders and the neck. This pain usually progresses to the hips. Fatigue is also present. People with this condition find it increasingly hard to move around.

Other symptoms include:

Exams and Tests

Lab tests alone cannot diagnose polymyalgia rheumatica. Most patients with this condition have a high sedimentation rate (ESR).

Other test results for this condition include:

These tests may also be used to monitor your condition.

Treatment

There is no cure for polymyalgia rheumatica. Low doses of corticosteroids (such as prednisone) can ease symptoms within a day or two. The dose can then be slowly reduced to a very low level, but treatment needs to continue for about 2 to 6 years.

Corticosteroids can cause many side effects, so you need to be watched closely if you are taking these medicines.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Polymyalgia rheumatica usually goes away by itself after 2 to 6 years. You might be able to stop taking medicines after this point, but check with your doctor before you stop taking your medicines.

More severe symptoms can make it harder for you to work or take care of yourself at home.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if you have weakness or stiffness in your shoulder and neck that does not go away and you have symptoms such as fever and headache.

Prevention

There is no known prevention.

References

  1. Hellmann DB. Giant Cell Arteritis, Polymyalgia Rheumatica, and Takayasu's Arteritis. In: Firestein GS, Budd RC, Gabriel SE, et al, eds. Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 88.

Review Date: 2/21/2013.

Reviewed by: Ariel D. Teitel, MD, MBA, Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine, NYU Langone Medical Center, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.

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Copyright © 2013, A.D.A.M., Inc.

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (www.hon.ch).

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only — they do not constitute endorsementscof those other sites. © 1997–2011 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

Copyright © 2013, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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  • Corticosteroid injections for shoulder painCorticosteroid injections for shoulder pain
    The available evidence from randomized controlled trials supports the use of subacromial corticosteroid injection for rotator cuff disease, although its effect may be small and short‐lived, and it may be no better than non‐steroidal anti‐inflammatory drugs. Similarly, intra‐articular steroid injection may be of limited, short‐term benefit for adhesive capsulitis. Further trials investigating the efficacy of corticosteroid injections for shoulder pain are needed. Important issues that need clarification include whether the accuracy of needle placement, anatomical site, frequency, dose and type of corticosteroid influences efficacy.
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