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Polymyalgia Rheumatica Specialist

Arthritis Associates -  - Rheumatology

Arthritis Associates

Rheumatology & Arthritis located in San Antonio, TX

Widespread stiffness and aching are both common signs of polymyalgia rheumatica, a rheumatic disease that usually starts at around the age of 70. At Arthritis Associates in San Antonio, Texas, the skilled rheumatic disease experts evaluate and treat polymyalgia rheumatica in their state-of-the-art facility. Call the office or schedule your appointment online today.

Polymyalgia Rheumatica Q&A

What is polymyalgia rheumatica?

Polymyalgia rheumatica is a disorder that causes widespread stiffness and aching, which can be similar to arthritis or fibromyalgia symptoms. The disorder rarely appears before age 50, and the average age of onset is 70. 

At this time, the cause of polymyalgia rheumatica is unknown, but research indicates that the symptoms may stem from inflammation within the hip and shoulder joints. 

What are the symptoms of polymyalgia rheumatica?

Polymyalgia rheumatica can cause pain and stiffness in two or more areas, including:

  • Upper arms
  • Shoulders
  • Neck
  • Lower back
  • Thighs
  • Buttocks

Some people also experience hand and wrist symptoms. Usually, these symptoms occur evenly on both the left and right sides of the body.

In most cases, aching and stiffness peak in the morning and fade throughout the day. But, any long period of rest, like prolonged sitting, may trigger aching and stiffness. 

Polymyalgia rheumatica symptoms can disrupt sleep and normal routine activities like combing your hair or getting dressed. You may also struggle with getting up from a sitting position. 

About 15% of people with polymyalgia rheumatica develop a potentially serious type of vasculitis called temporal arteritis. 

Some symptoms of temporal arteritis include new headaches focused on one side, scalp tenderness, and vision problems. 

What is the diagnostic process for polymyalgia rheumatica?

Diagnosis involves a physical exam, medical history review, and a careful symptom assessment. People with polymyalgia rheumatica often have indicators of high inflammation levels in blood tests. The Arthritis Associates team can do blood draws on-site and offers expedited results. 

The team may perform an on-site ultrasound exam to spot the signs of polymyalgia rheumatica and to eliminate other conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. 

How is polymyalgia rheumatica treated?

Treatment for polymyalgia rheumatica usually involves low-dose corticosteroids. Once your symptoms abate, the team can guide you through a gradual decrease in medication. 

Because oral steroids can cause bone loss and osteoporosis, the goal is to find the lowest possible dose that keeps you comfortable. Ideally, you discontinue corticosteroids in the future. 

But, if you need to take them for a prolonged period, the team can help you to guard against bone loss and osteoporosis with supplements or other means. 

For polymyalgia rheumatica care from a team that truly understands the complexities of the condition, call Arthritis Associates or schedule an appointment online.