Polymyalgia rheumatica is an inflammation caused when white bloods cells attack the lining of the joints. Normally these white blood cells protect your body by attack invading viruses and bacteria. It is unknown what causes them to begin attack the joint lining. It is believed that both genetic and environmental factors may play a role. There might be a link between polymyalgia rheumatica and viruses such as adenovirus human parvovirus B19 and human parainfluenza virus.
The symptoms of polymyalgia rheumatica include moderate or severe aching and stiffness in the hip, thigh, shoulder, upper arm and neck muscles, fatigue, weight loss, weakness, a general feeling of unwell, slight fever and anemia. Sometimes the pain occurs on only one side of the body but as the disease progresses it will most likely spread to affect both sides. Stiffness is often worse after prolonged periods of laying down or sitting. The aching may happen gradually or may appear suddenly. 10 to 20 percent of patients with polymyalgia rheumatica also suffer from giant cell arteritis. This causes the arteries in your temples, and sometimes also in your neck to become swollen and inflamed.
With mild cases of polymyalgia rheumatica the symptoms can be treated by simply taking asprin or ibuprofen or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. However, the long continued use of these drugs can cause a lot of complications such as stomach bleeding, instestinal bleeding, fluid retention, high blood pressure, renal insufficiency, congestive heart weakening and liver function test abnormalities.
The most common treatment for polymyalgia rheumatica is corticosteroids. The drug is given as pills to be taken orally every day. Relief should be immediate. If there is no response to the drug then it is extremely likely that you don’t have polymyalgia rheumatica. After taking the drug for a month so that anemia has improved and sed rate and platelet count are back to normal, the dosage of the drug will be decreased gradually. The goal is to achieve the lowest dosage needed to control the inflammation of the joints. If the symptoms reappear while the dosage is being lowered the doctor should be told so that the dosage can be raised again. The corticosteroids don’t need to be taken forever. The amount of time varies but most are able to stop after two years. The doctor will gradually decrease the dosage until the person can get off the drug completely. Sudden stopping of taking the drug should not be done as it can make a person very ill.
There is no prevention methods for polymyalgia rheumatica since the exact cause is not known.