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Polymyalgia Rheumatica, also known as PMR is an inflammatory disease characterized by pain/stiffness involving the shoulders, neck and hips. It typically affects patients over the age of 60. It is characterized by rather abrupt onset of pain and stiffness that is worse in the morning and improves throughout the day. Some patients have difficulty getting out of bed, combing their hair and brushing their teeth due to shoulder pain.
About 15 % of patients with PMR will also develop another disorder termed Giant Cell Arteritis or Temporal arteritis which can cause a severe headache over a specific part of the head called the temporal area, scalp tenderness, jaw pain upon talking or chewing and blindness. If patient’s with PMR develop any changes in their vision, they need to immediately notify their physician as blindness can be irreversible.
Pain/stiffness involving the neck, shoulders, and hips
PMR is treated with oral steroids. According to most studies, average duration of treatment with prednisone is 18 months. Most patients will tend to have the disease remit within 1-2 yrs, but a minority will have a relapsing course. Treatment is aimed at prescribing the lowest possible dose of prednisone which controls symptoms with eventual tapering off to ensure that relapse does not occur.