Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) is an inflammatory condition that affects people over the age of 50, along with giant cell arteritis. Unlike general osteoarthritis, PMR develops quickly, with symptoms worsening rapidly over a few days or even overnight. The exact causes of PMR and giant cell arteritis are unknown, but they seem to be influenced by genetics, environmental factors, and the aging process.
PMR and giant cell arteritis often occur together, with 10% of people with PMR also having giant cell arteritis, and 50% of those with giant cell arteritis experiencing PMR.
The symptoms of PMR include pain and stiffness in the shoulders, neck, upper arms, and hips. These symptoms are usually worse in the morning, and it may be difficult to reach overhead or move after a period of inactivity. Other symptoms include flu-like symptoms such as a low-grade fever, weight loss, weakness, loss of appetite, and swelling of the wrist joints and hands.
Giant cell arteritis is characterized by symptoms like headache, tenderness in the head, jaw pain, double vision or loss of vision, cramping, and flu-like symptoms similar to those of PMR.
If you experience any of these symptoms, it's important to consult your physician. The most common treatment for both PMR and giant cell arteritis is usually a medication called prednisone. Most people start feeling better within a few days after taking this medication. If stiffness or pain persists, physical therapy may be the next step in treatment.
While physical therapy cannot cure the inflammation associated with PMR and giant cell arteritis, it can help improve mobility and provide guidance on modifying daily activities to cope with the condition.
When you or someone you care about has received this diagnosis and is looking for an experienced team of licensed physical therapists, please reach out to us. It is our privilege to provide compassionate care.