Polymyalgia rheumatica is a disorder that causes muscle pain and stiffness in your neck, shoulders, and hips. It is most common in women and almost always occurs in people over 50. The main symptom is stiffness after resting. Other symptoms include fever, weakness and weight loss. In some cases, polymyalgia rheumatica develops overnight. In others, it is gradual.
The cause of polymyalgia rheumatica is unknown. There is no specific test for it. Your doctor will use your medical history, symptoms, and a physical exam to make the diagnosis. Lab tests for inflammation may help confirm the diagnosis.
Polymyalgia rheumatica sometimes occurs along with giant cell arteritis, a condition that causes swelling of the arteries in your head. Symptoms include headaches and blurred vision. Doctors often prescribe prednisone, a steroid medicine, for both conditions. With treatment, polymyalgia rheumatica usually disappears in a day or two. Without treatment, it usually goes away after a year or more.
NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
Treatments and Therapies
- Prednisone (Johns Hopkins Vasculitis Center)
- Prednisone and Other Corticosteroids: Balance the Risks and Benefits (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
- ClinicalTrials.gov: Polymyalgia Rheumatica (National Institutes of Health)
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: Association between infection and the onset of giant cell arteritis and...
- Article: Diagnostic difficulties in polymyalgia rheumatica cases with normal erythrocyte sedimentation rate...
- Article: Aberrant phenotype of circulating antigen presenting cells in giant cell arteritis...
- Polymyalgia Rheumatica -- see more articles
Find an Expert
- American College of Rheumatology
- Find a Rheumatologist (American College of Rheumatology)
- National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases Also in Spanish