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Polymyalgia Rheumatica


Polymyalgia rheumatica is a condition that causes muscle pain and stiffness from inflammation. The symptoms are worst after you have not used the muscles for a period of time. For example, it may be difficult to get out of bed when you wake up in the morning. Polymyalgia rheumatica usually affects people older than 50 years, often after age 70. Polymyalgia rheumatica can occur with a serious condition called giant cell arteritis, or temporal arteritis. This condition causes the walls of arteries to swell.


Seek care immediately if:

  • You have signs or symptoms of giant cell arteritis, such as a headache, jaw pain, vision changes, or a fever.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have new or returning signs or symptoms of polymyalgia rheumatica while the steroid medicine is being lowered.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


  • Steroid medicine must be taken exactly as directed. Do not suddenly stop taking this medicine. Your healthcare provider will need to lower your dose slowly over time.
  • NSAIDs may help decrease mild swelling and pain. This medicine is available without a doctor's order. Your healthcare provider can tell you which medicine is right for you. He will tell you when to take it, and for how long. Follow directions. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems if not taken correctly. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Manage polymyalgia rheumatica:

  • Exercise as directed. Exercise can help prevent or reduce pain. Exercise can also help you keep muscle mass and prevent falls.
  • Go to physical therapy as directed. A physical therapist can teach you exercises to help keep muscle mass. He can also teach you exercises to improve range of motion in joints that are difficult to move.
  • Use assistive devices as needed. A raised toilet seat or chair can help you stand more easily. Devices are available to help you reach items on high shelves if you have trouble reaching up. Your healthcare provider may recommend a cane or walker to help you keep your balance.
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Healthy foods can help you have more energy. Ask if you need to be on a special diet.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Your healthcare provider will need to check your symptoms and adjust your steroid dose over time. He will also check for side effects from the medicine, such as a high blood sugar level or fast heart rate. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.