How to find relief if you have polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR)

Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) comes from the following words:

  • “Poly”: Many
  • “Mya”: Muscles
  • “Algia”: Pain
  • “Rheumatica”: Joints and connective tissues

So, it’s a condition that means, “muscle pain and joint stiffness in many areas.” It’s an inflammatory condition that happens in the neck, shoulders, and pelvic area.

Who are affected

Usually, those who are older (over 50 years), women, and Caucasians. So, older white women are among the demographics who are diagnosed the most.

How to know if you have PMR

The following symptoms should stay around for at least two weeks before a proper diagnosis is given:

  • Bilateral shoulder pain. The shoulders to the elbows should hurt.
  • Bilateral pelvic girdle pain.
  • Pain happens more when moving more often.
  • Sleep aggravates it more.
  • It’s hard to get out of bed because it’s painful for about 45 minutes in the morning.

Other symptoms can include:

  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Low-grade fever
  • Low mood or depression
  • Upper arm tenderness
  • Carper tunnel syndrome
  • Pitting edema (visible fluid buildup within tissue)

How to treat PMR

Steroids is the number one way to treat Polymyalgia rheumatica. 15mg of prednisolone is given, then wait two weeks. If the body doesn’t accept the medication, then an alternative needs to be accessed.

If, however, the patient’s body accepts the medicine, continue treatment. At three to four weeks of treatment with positive results, decrease the amount of dosage. The goal is to eventually take the patient off the steroids. 

Long-term additional treatment

For patients who need long-term treatment of steroids, remind them of the acronym “DON’T STOP”:

DON’T: Don’t take steroids after three weeks because they will become dependant on them, and if sudden stopping of this intake occurs, adrenal crisis can happen ( life-threatening imbalanced hormones).

S: Sick day rules. If they become unwell, there may need to be more of a steroid dose.

T: Treatment card. Need to carry the card so paramedics or doctors know if they need to give a dose of steroids.

O: Osteoporosis prevention. Longer the steroids are taken in, the bones may become weak. Need to take calcium and Vitamin D.

P: Proton pump inhibitor. Longer the steroids are taken, the stomach lining is hindered. Consider taking gastric protection.


Arthritis Consultants of East Tennessee specializes in rheumatologic care, which is the practice of assessing joints, muscles, and bones for pain, swelling, stiffness, and deformity. Contact us or call 865-503-2001 today to find out how we can help you get your life back on track.

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