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Polymyalgia rheumatica – Symptoms, causes, risk factors & complications

This is an inflammatory disorder which is causing muscle pain and stiffness, especially in the shoulders. The signs and symptoms of polymyalgia rheumatica usually begin quickly and they worse in the morning. In the most cases, people who develop polymyalgia rheumatic are older than 65.  In rare cases, polymyalgia rheumatic affects people under 50. The polymyalgia rheumatic is related to another inflammatory condition called giant cell arteritis. This condition results in inflammation in the lining of the arteries, most often the arteries in the temple.

This condition can cause scalp tenderness, jaw pain, vision difficulties and headaches. It is possible to have polymyalgia rheumatica and giant cell arteritis together. It is known that these two conditions share many similarities. There are many people who have one of these diseases to have the symptoms of the other disease. If you leave giant cell arteritis untreated, then it can lead to blindness or stroke. You should know that there is no cure for polymyalgia rheumatica. In many cases, the polymyalgia rheumatica improves once the treatment is received. This condition typically goes away after 2 – 6 years of treatment.

SymptomsPolymyalgia rheumatica


The signs and symptoms of polymyalgia rheumatic usually happen on both sides of the body and they can include:

You can have a pain or stiffness in your wrists, elbows or knees

Limited range of motion in the affected areas

Stiffness in the affected areas, particularly in the morning or after being inactive for a time

You can have aches or pain in your neck, upper arms, buttocks, hips or thighs

You can have aches or pain in your shoulders

Also, you can have more general signs and symptoms, like


Unintended weight loss

Loss of appetite

A general feeling of not being well (malaise)


Mild fever

The symptoms of polymyalgia rheumatica develop quickly which is usually happening in a period of several days. There are some cases when the symptoms can appear overnight. These symptoms tend to be worse in the morning and they gradually improve throughout the day. Those people who are inactive and who remain in one position for a long period of time, the symptoms of polymyalgia rheumatica can be worse. The stiffness and pain can become so severe so these people will have problems to do daily activities, such as getting into a car, getting dressed and standing up from the couch. There are some cases when the symptoms of polymyalgia rheumatica can make you to feel difficult to sleep.


It is unknown the exact cause for polymyalgia rheumatica. It has been shown that two factors are involved in the development of this condition:

An environmental exposure: There are some studies in which are said that the new cases of polymyalgia rheumatica tend to come in cycles, possibly developing seasonally. This is suggesting that an environmental trigger, like a virus, can play a role in it. There is no specific virus which has been shown to cause polymyalgia rheumatica.

Genetics: There are some genes and gene variations which can increase your risk of getting polymyalgia rheumatica.

Risk factors

There are some factors which can increase your risk of polymyalgia rheumatica, such as

Race: There are some studies in which are said that polymyalgia rheumatica is most common among people whose ancestors were from northern Europe or Scandinavia.

Sex: It is noticed that women are having about 2 – 3 times more chances of getting polymyalgia rheumatica compared to men.

Age: It is noticed that polymyalgia rheumatica affects older adults almost exclusively. This condition most often happens between ages 70 and 80.


The symptoms of this can greatly affect your ability to do daily activities, such as

Getting dressed

Combing your hair or bathing

Getting out of a car, standing up from a chair or getting out of bed

These difficulties can affect your sleep, physical activity, social interactions, health and the general well – being. It has been noticed that people who have polymyalgia rheumatica have increased chances of getting arterial disease but usually it is mild and it responds well to treatment.

Ramesh Kumar
Ramesh Kumar
Dr. Ramesh kumar, BAMS is naturopathy doctor who is well versed with health benefits of all fruits, vegetables and medicinal plants


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