Important Info on Polymyalgia Rheumatica
It is unclear how or why polymyalgia rheumatica and temporal arteritis (also known as giant cell arteritis or cranial arteritis) are related, but an estimated 15 percent of people in the United States with polymyalgia rheumatica also develop temporal arteritis. People can develop temporal arteritis either at the same time as polymyalgia rheumatica or after the polymyalgia symptoms disappear.
When a person is diagnosed with polymyalgia rheumatica, the doctor also should look for symptoms of temporal arteritis because of the risk of blindness that accompanies this condition. With proper treatment, temporal arteritis is not threatening. Untreated, however, it can lead to serious complications, including permanent vision loss and stroke. People must learn to recognize the signs of temporal arteritis, because they can develop even after the symptoms of polymyalgia rheumatica disappear. Any possible symptoms should be reported immediately to a healthcare provider.
Common polymyalgia rheumatica symptoms include:
- Moderate to severe stiffness and muscle pain near the neck, shoulders, or hips
- Pain that is worse in the morning and after inactivity
- Flu-like symptoms, including fever
- Weight loss
These possible symptoms are not sure signs of polymyalgia rheumatica. Other medical conditions can also cause these symptoms. People with possible symptoms should see their healthcare provider so that the problem can be diagnosed and treated as quickly as possible.
No single test is available to diagnose polymyalgia rheumatica. To make a diagnosis, a physician considers the person's medical history, including reported symptoms, and results of laboratory tests, which can rule out other possible diagnoses.
Common lab tests used in diagnosing polymyalgia rheumatica include an erythrocyte sedimentation rate and rheumatoid factor.