What are Polymyalgia Rheumatica Symptoms?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
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  • Last Modified Date: 12 November 2019
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Polymyalgia rheumatica is a difficult illness that can cause discomfort, stiffness and pain in a variety of joints, and onset can sometimes be sudden. This condition is most associated with people who are older — normally affecting those 50 or older. It is considered an autoimmune disease and it has some relationship to other types of arthritis. In addition to achiness in a variety of joints, polymyalgia rheumatica symptoms may include those that make people feel run down or tired.

Pain associated with this illness is classed as moderate to severe, which means some people will be uncomfortable and others could be in extreme pain. The disease also varies by onset. Some people arise from bed in the morning with a sudden onset of most polymyalgia rheumatica symptoms and they might feel tight or aching hips, painful thighs, sore shoulders, achy upper arms, and a tight neck. At first, discomfort might be limited to one side of the body, but usually will affect both sides eventually, and as stated sometimes the condition can occur quickly or may take a while to fully develop.


The pain and discomfort are the most striking polymyalgia rheumatica symptoms, and people can report feeling different levels of pain through the day. Some find that upon waking in the morning, stiffness and pain are most noted, but with a little movement, there is an improvement and they are less uncomfortable. The degree of muscle soreness is clearly variable, though when people do not get treatment for this illness, it may gradually get more severe.

In addition to pain, polymyalgia rheumatica symptoms can make some people feel like they’re coming down with flu. They may feel very tired and run down, and have an overall feel of malaise. Some people report weight loss too. Along with these most common expressions of the illness other polymyalgia rheumatica symptoms have been reported, and these can include depression, slight fever, loss of appetite, and muscle pain or stiffness in other areas of the body. Blood tests typically reveal that people are anemic.

Polymyalgia rheumatic symptoms may be present with another condition. Some people already have or will get giant cell arthritis, which results in inflammation of the arteries. Some people view polymyalgia rheumatica as a harbinger of single cell arthritis. Yet others are quick to point out that people who already have single cell arthritis may get this condition second. Clearly the relationship between the two diseases is not completely comprehended.

There is fortunately treatment for polymyalgia rheumatica, which may help reduce the disease’s symptoms. This includes giving medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and corticosteroids. With treatment, provided people can tolerate side effects, the condition may disappear in about two to four years or sooner.


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Post 3

@aaaCookie, I have heard of that as well. My mother was told that one of the reasons for this disparity is that while arthritis can be tested for fairly easily, polymyalgia rheumatica diagnosis is difficult in part because it cannot be tested convincingly.

Post 2

@BambooForest, I had a friend who also struggled with diagnosis before finally being told she had fibromyalgia rheumatica, though there was also suspicion she might have arthritis. The other obstacle many sufferers face is that even today there are doctors who do not actually believe that these illnesses exist. I have heard of doctors who said these symptoms were likely the cause of mononucleosis, or of depression, or anemia, rather than an actual problem with the joints.

Post 1

The problem with many joint diseases is that symptoms are so variable it is often difficult to determine what exactly a patient suffers. My mother was diagnosed first with tendinities, then polymyalgia, and finally fibromyalgia, before she was able to see much improvement at all in her symptoms. Not only are the symptoms of polymyalgia rheumatica similar to fibromyalgia, they also are similar to those of mononucleosis and several other illnesses.

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