Polymyalgia Rheumatica (PMR) Treatment in Bristol, VA
Do you experience pain and stiffness in your shoulders, hips, or neck? Do you have difficulty raising your arms or standing up from sitting? You may be suffering from Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR), an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in the lining of joints—especially the shoulders and hip. In rare cases, it may affect your arteries and heart.
PMR is the most common form of new-onset inflammatory arthritis affecting people over the age of 50, but it doesn’t have to control your life. It can be treated with medication and lifestyle changes. To take the first step toward reducing or eliminating your PMR pain, speak with a polymyalgia rheumatica specialist in Bristol by calling (423) 482-8711 or contact Dr. Dalal Akoury online.
Symptoms of Polymyalgia Rheumatica
The average age that polymyalgia rheumatica symptoms appear is around 70. Symptoms of polymyalgia rheumatica tend to come and go quickly—sometimes overnight—and can include:
- severe pain and stiffness in both shoulders, hips, and neck
- difficulty raising the arms above the head or standing up from a chair
- mild weight loss
- sleep disturbances
Rare symptoms of polymyalgia rheumatica can include:
- inflammation of blood vessels in the arms, legs, and aorta, causing the vessels to narrow or widen
- swelling of the hands, forearms, and feet
- carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms (tingling and weakness in the hand, wrist, and arm)
Some people who have PMR may develop a condition called giant cell arteritis (GCA), also known as temporal arteritis (TA). Contact your healthcare provider if you experience these symptoms:
- one-sided headaches around the temples
- scalp tenderness
- vision changes, such as temporary blurring, double vision, or blindness
- jaw pain when eating
- loss of appetite
- facial, tongue, or throat pain
What Causes Polymyalgia Rheumatica?
The cause of polymyalgia rheumatica is unknown, though environmental and genetic factors are thought to play a role. PMR may also be the result of an infection, though more research is needed to confirm this. Women are twice as likely to develop PMR than men.
Recent research suggests that inflammation in PMR involves the bursae (sacs) around the shoulder and hip joints, meaning that pains in the upper arms and thighs start at the nearby shoulder and hip joints, a phenomenon known as referred pain.
Polymyalgia Rheumatica Diagnosis
Besides identifying symptoms, polymyalgia rheumatica diagnosis usually involves using blood tests to detect inflammation, such as erythrocyte sedimentation rate (sed rate) and C-reactive protein (CRP).
Other blood tests may include:
- Anticyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP) to detect an antibody found in those with rheumatoid arthritis
- Antinuclear antibody (ANA) to indicate the presence of autoimmune diseases
- Complete blood count (CBC) to evaluate white blood cell, red blood cell, and platelet levels
- Rheumatoid factor (RF) to detect rheumatoid arthritis
A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may also be used to identify the cause of joint pain.
Polymyalgia Rheumatica Treatment
Polymyalgia rheumatica treatment can involve the use of medication and lifestyle changes.
If your healthcare provider suspects you have PMR, you will be given low doses of corticosteroids (often prednisone) to relieve stiffness. If your symptoms don’t improve within 2-3 weeks, you may not have PMR. If your symptoms do improve, then your healthcare provider will gradually lower your corticosteroid dosage.
The goal is to treat your symptoms with the lowest dose possible, because side effects include:
- high blood sugar
- weight gain
- osteoporosis (bone loss)
- thinning of the skin
- anxiety or agitation
Contact your healthcare provider if you experience any of these symptoms. In rare cases, medication like methotrexate or azathioprine may make it easier to reduce the use of corticosteroids.
You may require corticosteroid treatments for up to 3 years to keep your symptoms under control. You will undergo blood tests every few weeks or months to monitor your inflammation. Your healthcare provider may recommend calcium and vitamin D supplements to help prevent osteoporosis from corticosteroid treatment.
Lifestyle changes to treat PMR can include regular exercise and diet changes. Exercise may be able to maintain joint flexibility, strength, and function. Common forms of exercise that can do the trick include walking, stationary bicycling, and pool exercises.
Your healthcare provider may also recommend physical therapy to help regain the strength and coordination. Assistive devices like such as canes, luggage and grocery carts, reaching aids, and shower grab bars might make daily tasks easier, while wearing low-heeled shoes may minimize the risks of falls.
Diet changes may include eating:
- fresh fruits and vegetables
- whole grains
- lean meats
- fish oil
- cold-water fish like sardines, trout, and wild salmon
Walnuts are filled with omega-3 fatty acids and may reduce inflammation. You should avoid alcohol, refined sugar products, salt, and pro-inflammatory fats like partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.
Talk with your healthcare provider to determine which PMR treatment is best for you.
Book Your Appointment Today
Polymyalgia rheumatica is a very common disease, and you don’t have to suffer from it. Medication and positive lifestyle changes may reduce or relieve your pain and stiffness. To speak with a polymyalgia rheumatic specialist, call (423) 482-8711 or contact Dr. Dalal Akoury online to schedule an appointment in Bristol today.
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