Polymyalgia Rheumatic, commonly known as PMR, is an inflammatory condition which is identifiable by many painful muscles and the fact that it effects older people. It can affect any muscles in the body but it is usually found most commonly to affect the shoulder and thigh muscles.
PMR usually starts from 50 years upwards but it mainly affects people who are aged 60 and over with the research suggesting that women are affected as many as three times more often than men with 1 in 2000 people living with the condition. It is can be very painful and difficult to live with.
Polymyalgia Rheumatica Symptoms
You may be able to get a diagnosis of PMR very quickly if you are aged over 60 and have the following symptoms:
- Morning stiffness that lasts for 45 minutes or longer
- Shoulder pain effecting both sides
- High levels of inflammation as found through blood testing
- New hip pain effecting both sides
- No swelling in the smaller joints of the hands and feet
- No evidence which suggests rheumatoid arthritis such as swollen joints
If you visit a rheumatologist without a diagnosis you may have a range of different blood tests taken to try and get a picture of your condition and diagnose whether you are suffering with PMR. Tests may include an erythrocyte sedimentation rate, plasma viscosity and C-reactive protein testing.
Regular over the counter painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs are usually not enough to help with the pain cause by PMR but most people find steroid treatment is very effective.
Corticosteroid tables are prescribed to help bring down the inflammation and lessen the pressure on the joint. They can’t cure PMR but they can help minimise the symptoms quite quickly, with change sometimes being felt within just two weeks of the treatment plan beginning. Most people find they are prescribed prednisolone.
Alongside steroid treatment you may be recommended bone protection treatment to avoid risk of developing osteoporosis. Steroid tablets must not be stopped unless you have been told to do so by your doctor and you must also carry a steroid card which shows your dose and how long you have been taking your medication, should you need to see another healthcare professional.
You may be advised to take regular painkillers or NSAIDs alongside your steroid treatment to help ease the pain but it isn’t always effective. You may also be advised to consider disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs if the steroid treatment isn’t effective.
The right treatment for PMR is dependent on the individual and a consultation to discuss your individual symptoms is essential to plan the right treatment.
Questions about Polymyalgia Rheumatica
If you have any questions regarding Polymyalgia Rheumatica please get in touch with Dr Stephanie Barrett.