What Is Giant Cell Arteritis?
Giant cell arteritis, or temporal arteritis, is an inflammatory condition that affects the large blood vessels of the scalp, neck and arms. As these vessels become narrowed or blocked by inflammation, blood flow can be disrupted, which can potentially lead to a number of serious ischemic events, such as vision loss, or stroke.
While the exact cause of giant cell arteritis is unknown, researchers believe it may be related to an inappropriate immune system response that targets the blood vessels, including the temporal arteries.
What Are the Symptoms of Giant Cell Arteritis?
In its early stages, giant cell arteritis often produces flu-like symptoms, such as fever, loss of appetite and general fatigue. As the condition progresses, inflamed temporal arteries can cause:
- Tenderness of the scalp and temples
- Double vision
- Temporary vision loss (as if a curtain were pulled partly over one eye)
- Balance and coordination problems
- Jaw pain when talking or eating
- A persistent sore throat
- Difficulty swallowing
- Occasional chest pains
If giant cell arteritis is suspected, a physician may order a temporal artery biopsy. This procedure involves the removal of a small portion of the temporal artery, which is situated close to the skin just in front of the ears and continues up into the scalp. The tissue sample is then sent to a lab for examination under a microscope. A diagnosis of giant cell arteritis may be confirmed if inflammatory and abnormal cells are found in the temporal artery walls.
How Is Giant Cell Arteritis Treated?
The symptoms of giant cell arteritis usually resolve relatively quickly with high-dose corticosteroid therapy, but it may be necessary to continue treatment for six to twelve months in order to keep the inflammation down and reduce the small but confirmed risk of blindness. Additional immunosuppressant medications are used by rheumatologist to reduce the inflammation, and shorten the duration of the corticosteroid regimen. In addition to closely following the prescribed medication regimen, it is important for a patient to get proper nutrition and regular physical activity, all of which can help minimize the side effects of corticosteroids.
Giant cell arteritis is a complex condition that requires specialized expertise to diagnose and treat. In Houston, Texas, you can consult with an experienced rheumatologist at Advanced Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine. Contact us to schedule an appointment today.
To request an appointment, please enter the information on the form on the right and press the “Continue” button to start the appointment request process.
1Professional Building II At North Cypress Medical Center
2North Cypress Professional Building At Lakewood Crossing
3North Cypress Professional Building At Towne Lake
4Advanced Orthopaedics Memorial
What Our Patients Are Saying
I highly recommend Advanced Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine whenever the need arises for great orthopaedic surgeons.
The surgery done by Dr. S. Patel (Actually injections) & the mild medications she has prescribed has surely made my lower back -hip-leg less painful.
This office did everything they could to get me in timely after a very bad sprain on my ankle. I saw nurse practitioner Stuart who is very thorough and x-rays and explaining everything to me.
I have been a patient of Dr. Cubbage for several years. Each time of go there, he always presents a thorough plan of care. From ordering the most appropriate diagnostic tests to making sure you understand
Dr. Patel is a very good Pain Management Doctor. She is one of my favorite doctors.
I would highly recommend Dr. Cubbage if you are having any type of spinal issues. I have seen Dr. Cubbage several times over the last 3 years for lumbar pain and numbness in my left leg.
Very Knowledgeable and helpful. Went in for an appt. with Dr. Elbaz for tennis elbow. Needed prp injections and they didn’t have an opening til the following week, but since I traveled 2 hrs to their office
I just think that this is the best health care facility to this day. I truly appreciate all the PT, so far they are consider it.
I just recovered from my 2nd back surgery by Dr. Mohr. I love the people there so much I just went back and saw a shoulder surgeon Dr. Fehsenfeld for cortisone shots.
This Hospital/clinic is the best that will take care of your pain and ailments. I will never trust any one else but Dr. Alain Elbaz to heal my body.