Polymyalgia rheumatica

Definition of Polymyalgia rheumatica

Polymyalgia rheumatica is an inflammatory disorder involving pain and stiffness in the hip or shoulder area.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Polymyalgia rheumatica is a disorder that almost always occurs in people over 50 years old. The cause is unknown. Although symptoms are located mainly in the muscles and there are no outward signs of , in some cases there is evidence of inflammatory arthritis.

Signs and tests

Fever may be the only symptom in some cases (the person has a fever for no known reason). There may also be signs of temporal arteritis.

Treatment

The goal of treatment is relief of discomfort and stiffness. The disease can be very bothersome if it is not treated. Corticosteroids, such as prednisone, are prescribed in low doses.

Expectations (prognosis)

Polymyalgia rheumatica usually goes away by itself, even when not treated, in 1 to 4 years. Symptoms diminish greatly with treatment. Most patients need steroid treatment for 1 or more years.

Review

Ariel D. Teitel, MD, MBA, Chief, Division of Rheumatology, St. Vincent’s Hospital, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 2/22/2009

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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