Polymyalgia Rheumatica or PMR is the aching and stiffness of arms, back, neck, and legs. Caucasians over the age of 50 are the primary people affected by this condition. PMR is hard to identify because the symptoms are so similar to other conditions. PMR is often caused in conjunction with giant cell arteritis, a type of vasculitis.
Unlike other rheumatologic conditions, polymyalgia rheumatica can appear suddenly. Individuals may experience difficulty with raising their arms over their shoulders and joint pain in the hand or wrist. Pain is often worse in the morning because of the long period of inactivity.
Symptoms of Polymyalgia Rheumatica
Individuals with polymyalgia rheumatica usually experience symptoms on both sides of their body. These symptoms might include:
- Reduced range of motion in affected areas
- Stiffness that generally occurs in the morning or after periods of inactivity
- Pain and stiffness in your hips, thighs, upper arms, or neck
- Pain and stiffness in your shoulders
Other symptoms you may experience include:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Appetite loss
- Fever, even mild
Diagnosis of Polymyalgia Rheumatica
A comprehensive physical exam and full medical history are required for the diagnosis of PMR. Often the diagnosis is made based on symptoms alone. Blood tests are also ordered to check for elevated inflammatory markers. PMR is often a diagnosis of exclusion meaning other autoimmune disorders must be ruled out as well including lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and myositis.
Risk factors associated with polymyalgia rheumatica include:
Age: Typically affects older adults over the age of 60
Sex: Women are more likely to develop polymyalgia rheumatica than men.
Race: Caucasians are more likely to develop polymyalgia rheumatica
Treatment for Polymyalgia Rheumatica
Corticosteroids like Prednisone are started immediately which will reduce the pain and stiffness very quickly. Some individuals feel better after one dose while others require more time. The dose of corticosteroids decreases slowly over many months to the lowest amount that keeps the symptoms controlled. Often, other medications that suppress the immune system are started to decrease the amount of steroids required. These medications require the close supervision of a rheumatologist to manage the side effects.
Dr. Tamar Brionez
About Our Doctor
Dr. Brionez has more than 10 years of experience in diagnosing and treating rheumatic musculoskeletal disease and systemic autoimmune conditions. She has a Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Sciences from Texas A&M University and completed her Doctor of Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. Additionally, she completed her Fellowship in Rheumatology at the University of Texas-Health Science Center. Dr. Brionez is board certified in both Internal Medicine and Rheumatology and has been in private practice since 2009.
Dr. Brionez is known for her dedication to her patients and her ability to diagnose complex conditions. She adheres to the highest standards of medical care while relying on cutting-edge technology and the most up-to-date medical research. Dr. Brionez has adopted a holistic view of her patients’ health and is considered a leading specialist in managing complex autoimmune disorders including lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, scleroderma, osteoporosis, and many others. She is fluent in Spanish and is dedicated to hiring diverse staff to best meet her patients’ needs.