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Symptoms Of Polymyalgia Rheumatica

It is important to realize that symptoms of polymyalgia rheumatica usually present with a fairly rapid onset of muscle aches. In general these are located in the neck, shoulder girdle muscles, upper arm muscles, hip muscles and upper thigh muscles.

In particular, a few days before these symptoms there may have been flu like symptoms. For instance, there would have been a lack of energy, a fever and malaise. Weight loss, signs of depression and stiffness after inactivity are also common.

It may appear that the patient is suffering from a cancer. But a thorough work-up usually fails to show any sign of cancer (Ref. 2). Polymyalgia rheumatica is a diagnosis by exclusion. In other words, any disease that has a similar presentation with muscle aches and pains such as depression, cancer or infection has to be excluded, before a diagnosis of polymyalgia rheumatica can be made by your doctor.


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.

3. Goldman: Cecil Textbook of Medicine, 21st ed.(©2000)W.B.Saunders

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

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

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

7. 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.