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Polymyalgia rheumatica is an inflammatory condition that is chronic and connected to giant cell arteritis. People with this condition suffer pain all throughout their bodies as their organs and their linings develop inflammation. This particular inflammatory condition is relatively new, as there is still research being done about it. From what is known, adults over the age of 65 develop this condition as they age.
The causes of polymyalgia rheumatica are difficult to pinpoint. There are more things we do not know about this condition compared to what we do. So far, no exact causes have been found — except for theories on how the condition worsens.
Since adults under the age of 65 rarely develop polymyalgia rheumatica, it is safe to assume that age is a cause. Although, there have been people as young as 25 who were diagnosed with polymyalgia rheumatica.
The condition does worsen as the seasons change. Researchers and doctors have noted throughout the years that the pain worsens for their patients around winter. This may be because of the frequency of the common cold and other viruses during this time. It could also be because the cold weather can cause flareups in conditions associated with inflammation.
For older adults with polymyalgia rheumatica, they are likely to feel at least two of the following symptoms:
While these symptoms may sound concerning, they do go away and come back. It is rare for a patient with polymyalgia rheumatica to suffer pain every day.
It does take time for a diagnosis to be made. People who suffer from the symptoms listed above are frequently misdiagnosed with polymyalgia rheumatica when they have polymyalgia arthritis. The treatment for these two conditions is vastly different, as are the causes. It is important for doctors to take their time and run as many tests as possible before making a quick diagnosis of a person’s condition.
One test that is often used in the beginning stages of diagnosis is a blood test. A medical professional takes a sample of the patient’s blood and sends it for testing. The blood then tells the medical professional what the rates are for erythrocyte sedimentation (sed rate) and C-reactive proteins, which both indicate signs of inflammation.
If the tests are not conclusive, then doctors may also use ultrasound tests on the body parts that feel the most pain. These body parts typically are the shoulders, neck, and hips. When looking with the ultrasound, doctors can slowly distinguish and rule out other conditions that present similarly.
There are thankfully many ways to treat this condition. It is possible to reduce inflammation, even if it is chronic. While there are ways to treat the symptoms, there currently are no cures. It is also not possible to reverse any trauma or damage to a person’s body as a result of polymyalgia rheumatica.
Doctors may prescribe their patients’ medications in pill or liquid form. One of the more common types of medication is corticosteroids. The dosage for these steroid medications is low and decreases with time as the doctor notices differences in the patient’s symptoms. This medication is also only recommended to be taken for a year as there are severe long-term side effects.
Not only are there treatments and management techniques prescribed by doctors, but there are also natural ways to reduce inflammation in patients. For example, they can change their diet to include foods that decrease inflammation. Foods that have anti-inflammatory properties are:
Healthier Me Today is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment, always consult with your healthcare professional. Stay healthy!