Often polymyalgia rheumatica is considered to be a form of arthritis, but this is not precisely the case. Generally, the condition has not been as well researched as the inflammation affecting the joints. The good news is that there is treatment available. It is natural for sufferers to have a lot of questions, especially if they have been recently diagnosed. Use this guide to learn the most important things about the condition.
What is polymyalgia rheumatica exactly?
Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR for short) is a debilitating inflammatory disease affecting the muscles of the shoulders, neck, upper arms, hips and thighs. It causes muscle pain and stiffness. Usually, the onset is very quick. It takes a few days for the condition to affect the sufferer fully.
To learn more about PMR, see Polymyalgia Rheumatica: An Overview.
What are the main symptoms of polymyalgia rheumatica?
Pain and stiffness in the affected areas are the most common symptoms of polymyalgia rheumatica. Sufferers may find their upper arms tender. You may experience a limited range of motion in all affected areas. Other common symptoms, which are usually resulting from the primary ones, include fatigue, fever that is usually fairly low, malaise, weight loss and depression.
To learn more about the symptoms of PMR, see Polymyalgia Rheumatica Symptoms.
What causes polymyalgia rheumatica?
The causes of the condition are not well understood at least for now. Based on the research done so far, it is thought that a number of viral infections may lead to this condition. It has also been noticed that it runs in some families so there may be genetic factors that trigger its onset.
Who is at risk of this condition?
This disease usually affects the elderly. It has been found that individuals over 70 years of age are more likely to develop it, even though it may appear in people as young as 50. Women have double the risk of being affected compared to men. Individuals from Scandinavian descent are at higher risk as well.
To learn more about the risk factors of PMR, see 4 Risk Factors of Polymyalgia Rheumatica.
Is there a way to prevent polymyalgia rheumatica?
According to doctors, there are no medical methods which can be used for the prevention of this condition. However, if you lead a healthy and active lifestyle with a balanced diet and sufficient amount of exercise appropriate for your age, you may reduce your risk of getting this disease.
What is the treatment and how well does it work?
Polymyalgia rheumatica is treated with corticosteroids taken orally. This treatment may last for as much as two to six years with the daily dosage of the prescribed drug being reduced slowly over time. The condition is considered incurable, but after a set period the symptoms’ severity is reduced to the very minimum and often they usually go away altogether.
In addition to corticosteroids, patients are usually prescribed calcium and vitamin D supplements so that their symptoms improve and the risk of osteoporosis is reduced. Physical therapy is also part of the treatment. It is used to help sufferers preserve as much of their muscles’ function and flexibility as possible. It certainly aids them in performing common everyday tasks.
Overall, with the right treatment, polymyalgia rheumatica may go away. You need the right dosages of the prescription drugs and regular monitoring.