An inflammatory disorder, polymyalgia rheumatica causes muscle pain and stiffness, most often in the shoulders. An extremely chronic condition, polymyalgia rheumatica is often associated with giant cell arteritis, another inflammatory disorder that causes headaches, vision problems, jaw pain, and scalp tenderness.
Polymyalgia rheumatica often starts with an ache or pain in your shoulders. It develops quickly and can lead to pain in the:
These areas are also prone to becoming stiff, especially in the morning or after being stationary for an extended period. You may also notice a limited range of motion, particularly after inactivity.
In addition to this pain, you may also experience:
Like most inflammatory disorders, the cause of polymyalgia rheumatica is unknown. However, there does appear to be certain genetic factors that may make you more susceptible to developing the disorder.
Although it’s not a cause, developing giant cell arteritis may put you at a higher risk for polymyalgia rheumatica, as around half of those with giant cell arteritis also have polymyalgia rheumatica. Giant cell arteritis is an inflammation of your arteries’ lining, often around the temples. Its symptoms include:
Other risk factors include age with the average age of onset being 73, and being female with northern European ancestry.
When you see Dr. Nathaniel or Dr. Rebekah, they give you a thorough physical examination and review your medical history. They may also ask you questions regarding the severity and location of your pain.
Your rheumatologist may request diagnostic procedures to rule out other conditions and conduct blood or imaging tests. If they suspect giant cell arteritis, they may perform a biopsy.
If Dr. Nathaniel or Dr. Rebekah determines you have polymyalgia rheumatica, they may prescribe you a corticosteroid to treat and reduce inflammation.
Since relapse is common, they may recommend you take a low dose corticosteroid for an extended period. If so, they may also recommend calcium and vitamin D supplements. These protect your bone health and reduce bone loss caused from extended steroid use.
If you have unexplained shoulder pain and think it may be polymyalgia rheumatica, contact the rheumatologists at Valerius Medical Group & Research Center today. Call to schedule your appointment or book online.
Feel free to email us regarding any scheduling or general questions!