Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR)
Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) is a condition that causes pain, stiffness and inflammation in the muscles around the shoulders, neck and hips. It is more common in women than men and usually affects people over 70 years of age. See your GP if you have stiffness for more than a week.
Symptoms of PMR
The main symptoms are pain, and muscle stiffness in the morning that lasts longer than 45 minutes. It may also cause other symptoms, including:
See your GP if you have pain and stiffness for more than a week. They'll try to find out what's causing it.
Diagnosing PMR can be difficult because the symptoms are similar to those of many other conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis.
These conditions will need to be ruled out before PMR is diagnosed.
Causes of PMR
The cause of PMR is unknown, but a combination of genetic and environmental factors is thought to be responsible.
PMR is age-related. Most people diagnosed with it are over 70, and it's very rare in people younger than 50. It's also more common in women than men.
It's estimated that around one in every 1,200 people in the UK develop the condition every year.
The main treatment for PMR is a corticosteroid medication called prednisolone. It's used to help relieve the symptoms.
To begin with you'll be prescribed a moderate dose of prednisolone, which will be gradually reduced over time.
People with PMR will often need to take a course of corticosteroid treatment that lasts 18 months to two years to prevent their symptoms returning.
Giant cell arteritis
Around one in five people with PMR develop a more serious condition called giant cell arteritis (GCA), in which the arteries in the head and neck become inflamed.
Symptoms of GCA include:
- a severe headache that develops suddenly – your scalp may also feel sore or tender
- pain in the jaw muscles when eating
- problems with sight – such as double vision or loss of vision
If you have any of these symptoms, contact your GP immediately.
Unlike PMR, GCA requires immediate medical attention. This is because it can cause permanent sight loss if not treated quickly.
More useful links
The information on this page has been adapted from original content from the NHS website.
For further information see terms and conditions.