Polymyalgia Rheumatica

Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) is associated with muscle pain and stiffness in the neck, shoulders, and hips. The exact cause of this disorder is unknown, but is believed to possibly be linked to the aging process. Common symptoms include weakness, flu-like symptoms, and muscle pain and stiffness. The most common treatment is a corticosteroid medication, usually prednisone.

What Is Polymyalgia Rheumatica?

Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) is a rheumatic disorder that is associated with moderate to severe muscle pain and stiffness in the neck, shoulder, and hip area. Stiffness is most noticeable in the morning. The condition may develop rapidly -- in some people, it can occur overnight. In other people, polymyalgia rheumatica develops more gradually.
Polymyalgia rheumatica is quite common. In the United States, it is estimated that 700 out of every 100,000 people over the age of 50 develop this disorder (see Polymyalgia Rheumatica and Who It Affects).

Causes of Polymyalgia Rheumatica

The cause of polymyalgia rheumatica is not known; however, possibilities include immune system abnormalities and genetic factors.
The fact that the condition is rare in people under the age of 50 suggests that it may be linked to the aging process. Also, about half of the people affected by temporal arteritis (swelling of the arteries in the head, neck, and arms) also have polymyalgia rheumatica. At this point, though, researchers are not sure there is a direct connection between the two.


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