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Polymyalgia Rheumatica


As a matter of fact, polymyalgia rheumatica and temporal arteritis occur in patients who are usually between 60 and 75 years of age. Certainly, it is a painful muscle disease. For one thing,  laboratory evidence shows signs of inflammation and at the same time in addition signs of an immune system disorder. For one thing, with polymyalgia rheumatica there is a swelling of the synovial lining of the joints leading to joint pain and swelling. On the other hand, temporal arteritis (also called “giant cell arteritis”) seems to be a variant of this disease where the elastic membrane of cranial arteries gets broken down. All in all, if the temporal arteries are affected, there is a real danger of sudden onset blindness. About 1 in 1000 patients older than 50 years come down with temporal arteritis (Ref. 2).

Approximately 50% of these patients have polymyalgia rheumatica. About 33% of patients with polymyalgia rheumatica come down with temporal arteritis. In the past before corticosteroids were used in the treatment of giant cell arteritis about 30 to 60% of patients turned blind (Ref. 1).


1. ABC of rheumatology, second edition, edited by Michael L. Snaith, M.D., BMJ Books, 1999. Chapter 14.

2. The Merck Manual, 7th edition, by M. H. Beers et al., Whitehouse Station, N.J., 1999. Chapter 50.5. Goldman: Cecil Textbook of Medicine (21st ed., ©2000 W.B.Saunders)

3. Ferri: Ferri’s Clinical Advisor: Instant Diagnosis and Treatment, 2004 ed., Copyright © 2004 Mosby, Inc.

4. Rakel: Conn’s Current Therapy 2004, 56th ed., Copyright © 2004 Elsevier

5. B. Sears: “The age-free zone”.Regan Books, Harper Collins, 2000.

6. B. Sears: “Zone perfect meals in minutes”. Regan Books, Harper Collins, 1997.

Last modified: June 28, 2019

This outline is only a teaching aid to patients and should stimulate you to ask the right questions when seeing your doctor. However, the responsibility of treatment stays in the hands of your doctor and you.