Polymyalgia Rheumatica and Giant Cell Arteritis
Symptoms of polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) often occur suddenly and get worse without treatment. Typical polymyalgia rheumatica symptoms include pain and morning stiffness in the:
- Pelvic and hip region.
These symptoms are caused by Reference inflammation Opens New Window of joints, Reference tendons Opens New Window, and Reference bursae Opens New Window of the hip and shoulder regions. The pain affects both sides of the body. For example, both shoulders will usually be painful, not just one. Usually, both the shoulder and hip areas are affected.
Other symptoms of polymyalgia rheumatica may include:
- Feeling tired and having no energy or strength (Reference fatigue Opens New Window).
- Weight loss.
- Low fever.
- Reference Depression Opens New Window.
- Swelling of the knees, wrists, or ankles.
Giant cell arteritis
Symptoms of giant cell arteritis (GCA) can develop gradually or suddenly. They require immediate treatment.
Symptoms of giant cell arteritis may include:
- Headache, often near the temple or around the eye (temporal headache). Headaches are a symptom for most people who are examined for giant cell arteritis. The headache may begin as a dull, throbbing pain on one side of the head around the eye or near the temple. Sometimes the pain may feel like a stabbing or burning sensation.
problems. These problems may come on quickly and be temporary, but
sometimes they do not go away. Examples include:
- Brief loss of vision or partial loss, lasting seconds to minutes.
- Blurry or double vision.
- Patches of poor vision surrounded by normal vision.
- Decreased sharpness (acuity) of vision or focus.
- Tenderness on the side of the head (temple) or scalp. The Reference blood vessel on the temple Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window may also look swollen and its pulse may be decreased or absent. You may notice tenderness when you wear your glasses or comb your hair.
- Pain, aching, weakness, or cramping (claudication) of the tongue or jaw, especially when you chew food or talk for long periods of time.
Other uncommon symptoms of giant cell arteritis may include cough, hoarseness, chest pain, and arm weakness or cramps.
Some people with giant cell arteritis do not have the typical symptoms of headache, jaw pain, and vision problems. About half of people with giant cell arteritis will also have symptoms of polymyalgia rheumatica.Reference 1
Untreated giant cell arteritis can cause narrowing (constriction) of some of the Reference arteries in the skull or head Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window, reducing blood flow. As a result, a person with untreated giant cell arteritis is at greater risk of blindness, Reference stroke Opens New Window, or mini-strokes (Reference transient ischemic attacks, or TIAs Opens New Window).
Reference Conditions with symptoms similar to polymyalgia rheumatica or giant cell arteritis include Reference osteoarthritis Opens New Window, Reference rheumatoid arthritis Opens New Window, Reference fibromyalgia Opens New Window, and Reference lupus Opens New Window.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference April 13, 2011|
|Medical Review:||Reference Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Reference Stanford M. Shoor, MD - Rheumatology