About diagnosis and treatment of Polymyalgia Rheumatica in Encinitas, CA
Polymyalgia Rheumatica is a painful condition afflicting many residents of Encinitas, CA. Those seeking comprehensive care and advanced treatment options, turn to Seaside Rheumatology and Wellness Center.
What is Polymyalgia Rheumatica?
Polymyalgia Rheumatica is an inflammatory syndrome that affects patients usually older than the age of 50. Patients will present with gradually worsening severe pain and stiffness in the proximal extremities (shoulder girdle and pelvic girdles area) symmetrically. The pain and stiffness are usually bilateral and worse with inactivity.
Symptoms and risk factors
Women are slightly more at risk than men to developing the disease. The risk of developing the disease also increases with age. Most patients are between the age of 60-70 years at diagnosis. Patients may also develop joint pains associated with polymyalgia rheumatica.
The arthritis can affect:
Some patients with polymyalgia symptoms also have a condition known as giant cellarteritis. Giant cell arteritis is a medical emergency and should be treated as soon as possible.
How polymyalgia rheumatica is diagnosed
Blood test in polymyalgia rheumatica typically show elevations of the nonspecific inflammatory markers; Sedimentation rate and C-reactive protein. There is no specific blood test or imaging test that is diagnostic for polymyalgia rheumatica. The cause of polymyalgia rheumatica is unknown. It is important to note that in 7-10% of patients with polymyalgia rheumatica, these inflammatory markers will be normal.
Treatment consists of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and steroid therapy tapered very slowly over several months to a few years. Symptoms should resolve very quickly once steroids are started. It is very common for recurrences to occur several times during the steroid tapering process.
Most patients will be symptom-free and off steroid therapy by two years. A select few patients may require low dose prednisone for several years. It is important to discuss the long-term side effects of steroid use and how to help counteract these side effects.
Patients with polymyalgia are at increased risk to developing giant cell arteritis. Up to 30% of polymyalgia patients will develop giant cell arteritis. The symptoms associated with giant cell arteritis include, jaw pain, tongue pain, temporal headaches, scalp tenderness, stroke, and blindness. Giant cell arteritis symptoms are a medical emergency and should be treated immediately.