• Polymyalgia Rheumatica

    Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) is an inflammatory disease that causes pain and stiffness in the hips and shoulders. In most cases, the pain and stiffness is worse in the mornings.

    In about 50% of people who get polymyalgia rheumatica, it goes away in a few months to a few years. In this case, it’s called a self-limited disease. However, in other patients, PR can be a long-term condition.

  • Loading the player...

    Dr John Watterson, MD, FRCPC, discusses what is polymyalgia rheumatica.
    Dr John Watterson, MD, FRCPC, discusses what is polymyalgia rheumatica.
  • Loading the player...

    Dr. John Watterson, MD, FRCPC, discusses diagnosis and symptoms of polymyalgia rheumatica.
    Dr. John Watterson, MD, FRCPC, discusses diagnosis and symptoms of polymyalgia rheumatica.
  • Loading the player...

    Dr John Watterson, MD, FRCPC, discusses diagnosis and treatment of polymyalgia rheumatica.
    Dr John Watterson, MD, FRCPC, discusses diagnosis and treatment of polymyalgia rheumatica.
  • Treatment of Polymyalgia Rheumatica

    When it comes to treating polymyalgia rheumatica, the earlier the better. If a person with untreated polymyalgia rheumatica simply stops using their sore joints to minimize pain and stiffness, it can lead to contracture, which is a type of permanent damage that shortens the affected muscle or joint. Often seeing your local family physician for a referral to a rheumatologist, physiotherapist, or registered Dietician can help with polymyalgia rheumatica.

                                 

    For most patients, treatment of polymyalgia rheumatica involves medications that deal with inflammation. Medications for polymyalgia rheumatica include:

    Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

    NSAIDs help reduce the pain and inflammation caused by polymyalgia rheumatica. While not as effective as prednisone for the initial treatment of PR, but can be effective when used with prednisone.

    Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can also help reduce the dose of prednisone in patients who have been taking the medication for a long time. In treatment  your pharmacist,  is the right HCP to make sure it’s the right medication for you.

    Disease Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs (DMARDs)

    DMARDs are medications that are often used for inflammatory arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA). A rheumatologist may prescrbe a medication such as methotrexate to treat polymyalgia rheumatica.

    As well as physical therapy to keep the joints moving properly. The disease can often by fully and effectively treated with the right therapy, which means it’s possible for people affected by the disease to return to their normal day-to-day lives.

    Analgesics (Pain Killers)

    Analgesic medications can be effective in controlling pain, but they don’t do control PR or prevent further joint damage. Analgesics include over-the-counter options like acetaminophen or stronger prescription narcotics like morphine.

    Corticosteroids (Prednisone)

    Prednisone is the most common medication used to treat polymyalgia rheumatica, which fights inflammation. Most patients who take prednisone feel better within 24 hours, and the dose is gradually reduced over time. Most patients  A local chiropractor may work with your local massage therapist and your local physiotherapist to create the best health or rehabilitation plan for your situation. 

    If you’re taking prednisone for three months or longer, you may require a daily calcium and vitamin D supplement to protect your bones.

    Your rheumatologist may recommend other medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs).

    In addition to medications, patients may benefit from physical therapy and exercise for polymyalgia rheumatica. Exercise and stretching can improve pain and stiffness in the shoulders and hips and protect the joints from further damage.

    Daily exercise can also help people manage fatigue and mental health associated with PR.

  • Diagnosis of Polymyalgia Rheumatica

    A rheumatologist is a physician who specializes in treating arthritis and autoimmune disease. Because other diseases can be similar to polymyalgia rheumatica, it’s important to work with a doctor who understands the condition.

    In order to diagnose polymyalgia rheumatica, your physician will start by taking a complete medical history and physical assessment. Often, the doctor will order blood tests and x-rays to confirm the diagnosis.

    Symptoms of Polymyalgia Rheumatica

    The most common symptom of polymyalgia rheumatica are intense pain and stiffness in the shoulders and hips. Generally, PR comes on suddenly, sometimes even overnight.

    Patients often feel their stiffness is worse in the morning or after resting. Some people feel better once they get moving, while others feel pain and stiffness throughout the day.

    So, if someone you know or yourself has features of polymyalgia rheumatica, you should seek attention with your primary care physician. He or she will do a number of tests and likely send you on to a rheumatologist for consultation.  

    Presenter: Dr. John Watterson, Rheumatologist, Victoria, BC

    Local Practitioners: Rheumatologist

     

  • Who Gets Polymyalgia Rheumatica?

    Most commonly, people over the age of 50 develop polymyalgia rheumatica. It’s more common for women to get polymyalgia rheumatica than men. Another condition called giant cell arteritis (also known as temporal arteritis) may occur with PR. In treating this condition, often seeing a local massage therapist for muscle tension, a local personal trainer for muscle strength and a physiotherapist for release and conditioning is a good option. Getting a referral to a rheumatologist or your local pharmacist is also important in dealing with Arthritic conditions.  

    Approximately 15 out of every 100 people with polymyalgia rheumatica also have temporal arteritis. Temporal arteritis is a form of vasculitis (inflammation of the blood vessels). People with temporal arteritis have inflammation of the arteries along the temples. Symptoms include headaches, sensitivity, headaches and pain in the temples. In more severe cases patients may experience blurry vision or vision loss.


    So, if someone you know or yourself has features of polymyalgia rheumatica, you should seek attention with your primary care physician. He or she will do a number of tests and likely send you on to a rheumatologist for consultation.  

    Presenter: Dr. John Watterson, Rheumatologist, Victoria, BC

    Now Health Network Local Practitioners: Rheumatologist

Rheumatology Now

Rheumatology Now

-->