What Is Polymyalgia Rheumatica?
Polymyalgia rheumatica is an inflammatory condition that causes widespread aching and stiffness, particularly in older adults. The precise cause is unknown. Some researchers believe that polymyalgia rheumatica may be an autoimmune disease in which the body’s own immune system attacks healthy connective tissues. Genetic and environmental factors (such as infections) are thought to play a role in its development.
The areas of the body most affected by polymyalgia rheumatica are the neck, upper arms, lower back and upper thighs. While the discomfort often resembles muscle pain, many experts believe that its source is actually inflammation in the shoulder and hip joints, and therefore the pain felt in the upper arms and thighs is referred from nearby joints.
What Are the Symptoms of Polymyalgia Rheumatica?
The symptoms of polymyalgia rheumatica tend to come on quickly, often over a few days or weeks. Usually, both sides of the body are equally affected. The achiness generally worsens with rest and improves with physical activity. In some cases, severe stiffness leads to:
- Sleep disturbances
- Difficulty getting dressed (for instance, it can be difficult to raise the arms to put on a jacket or bend over to put on socks and shoes)
- Difficulty standing up from a seating position or getting out of a car
Polymyalgia rheumatica can also cause flu-like symptoms, such as fever, fatigue, headache, loss of appetite and unintended weight loss.
How Is Polymyalgia Rheumatica Treated?
Treatment of polymyalgia rheumatica focuses on reducing inflammation and easing stiffness, achiness, fatigue and fever. These symptoms can often be effectively managed with a combination of:
- Medication – Corticosteroids are the mainstay of polymyalgia rheumatica treatment. With a relatively low dose of these powerful anti-inflammatory drugs, the symptoms typically improve quickly. Mild symptoms can also be treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
- Physical activity – Regular exercise can be helpful for maintaining joint flexibility, muscle strength and function. Some particularly beneficial activities include walking, cycling and swimming.
- Rest – Sufficient sleep is important to allow the body time to heal and recover.
Polymyalgia rheumatica often resolves on its own, but the process can take up to five years or longer.
The Important Role of a Specialist
As a complex condition that is not yet well understood, polymyalgia rheumatica can be challenging to diagnose and treat. Therefore, it’s best to consult with an experienced specialist. In Houston, TX, you will find the necessary expertise at Advanced Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine. Contact us to request an appointment with a rheumatologist 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 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. Alain Elbaz is one of the most progressive orthopedic surgeons in the state. I’ve received PRP injections and hyaluronic acid injections in my aging and damaged joints allowing me to continue my daily jogging
Excellent care and attention to patients. I recently had a total hip replacement and I am able to walk 6 weeks after surgery with no cane.
Each procedure done by Dr. Patel has been an improvement. Very pleased.
Dr. Blalock did surgery on my broken wrist on Tuesday. I liked him a lot as did my husband. Took time to explain everything in detail even though his phone was ringing non-stop.
I highly recommend Advanced Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine whenever the need arises for great orthopaedic surgeons.
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.
Dr. Patel is one of the best Doctors I have ever had. She is pretty good at her job. She makes it plain and simple. She is also very thoughtful. I was very glad to have met her.
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.
Dr. Mills is a great hand specialist. He gets right to the point and is very kind to offer exercises to do to get my full range of motion back.