Polymyalgia rheumatica

Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) is an inflammatory disease of the muscles that causes pain and stiffness in the hip, neck, or shoulder area. The cause is unknown, but polymyalgia rheumatica is the result of the body's immune system reacting against itself, known as an autoimmune response.

Polymyalgia rheumatica usually begins after age 50. Pain and stiffness are usually worse in the morning. Depression and weight loss may also occur.

Polymyalgia rheumatica sometimes occurs along with a condition called giant cell arteritis (GCA), which causes symptoms such as headache, jaw pain, and loss of vision.

Polymyalgia rheumatica is usually treated with corticosteroid medicine. This disease usually responds to treatment, with symptoms decreasing within weeks. Medicine may be needed for 1 to 2 years to prevent symptoms from returning.

Last Updated: April 14, 2009

Author: Shannon Erstad, MBA/MPH

Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Richa Dhawan, MD - Rheumatology

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