Polymyalgia Rheumatica: Definition, Symptoms, Causes, Tests and exams, Treatment, Expectations (prognosis), and When to Contact a Medical Professional

polymyalgia rheumatica icd 10

Polymyalgia Rheumatica is an inflammatory disorder that causes terrible muscle pain and stiffness.

It is a disorder that usually affects people in their old age (around their 50’s)


Polymyalgia Rheumatica is a disorder that is more common in people older than 50 years. The Polymyalgia Rheumatica is also known as PMR.

Polymyalgia Rheumatica (PMR) is an inflammatory disorder that involves pain and stiffness in the shoulder and usually also in the hip.

PMR mostly affects the upper arms, neck, buttocks, and thighs. Polymyalgia Rheumatica is also worst in the morning and improves slightly during the day.

Polymyalgia Rheumatica or PMR also causes pain and stiffness in the neck, shoulders, and hips. In fact, the term means “pain in multiple muscles.”

Pain and stiffness occur because of the inflammation of joints and surrounding tissues. The shoulders and hips are most affected, but inflammation can also occur in other parts of the body.


The symptoms of Polymyalgia Rheumatica or PMR usually starts on both sides of your body.

The most common symptom is pain and stiffness in the shoulders and neck. Pain and stiffness are worse in the morning. That pain often radiates to the hip. Fatigue also occurs.

People with this condition have more and more difficulty getting out of bed and moving.

Some of the symptoms will include:

  • Aches and pain in your shoulders
  • You can also have pain in your neck, upper arms, buttocks, hip or even your thighs
  • In the mornings you will also have some stiffness in the affected area. You can also have some stiffness if you were inactive for an extended period.
  • You can have some low-grade fever,
  • Fatigue is also a common symptom,
  • You can also have some loss of appetite, weight loss and even some level of depression.

Stiffness and pain in the joints of the neck, shoulders, and hips. Most people with this disease have at least two of these symptoms. The disease can affect neck, buttocks, shoulders, forearms, hips, and thighs.

In many cases, the symptoms start suddenly. The person can be perfectly well one day and then feel all the effects of the disease the next day. Sometimes the symptoms happen more slowly.

Stiffness in the main sign, which is usually worse in the morning. When the stiffness is less severe, it can be difficult to get out of bed.

The pain may wake you up at night, and it may be difficult to turn over in bed. Stiffness can worsen in periods of inactivity, such as after a long car trip.

Other symptoms may include fatigue, weight loss, and mild fever. The bones in other parts of the body may ache, and the joints of hands and knees may swell.

Numbness and tingling will likely affect the fingers (carpal tunnel syndrome). Some people may experience emotional difficulties as they learn to cope with the disease.

Most affected people have been in good health before the onset of symptoms. These symptoms may seem overwhelming because they can affect every day of your life.

People with PMR sometimes have some other type of arthritis like osteoarthritis, but there is no relationship between both conditions. PMR is also related to a disease called giant cell arteritis.


Polymyalgia Rheumatica is a disorder that almost always occurs in people older than 50 years. The etiopathogenesis is still unknown.

Rheumatic polymyalgia may occur before or with giant cell arteritis (also called temporal arteritis). Due to that condition blood vessels supplying blood to the head and eyes become inflamed.

The inflammation of the joints and surrounding tissues is the cause of the pain and stiffness. The shoulders and hips are most affected, but inflammation can also occur in other parts of the body.

The etiology of this disease is unknown; however, some experts still believe that environmental and genetic factors play a highly relevant role in the disease.

Tests and exams

Polymyalgia Rheumatica cannot get diagnosed with laboratory tests.

Most patients with this condition have elevated markers of inflammation such as erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and C-reactive protein.

Other test results for this condition include:

  • Abnormal proteins in the blood
  • Abnormal white blood cells
  • Anemia (low blood count)

Medical experts can also use these tests to monitor your health status.


When you get diagnosed with PMR, you don’t need to take the pain and think that there is nothing you can do to fix it. There is some treatment available for PMR.

There are some medications that your doctor can prescribe for you to improve your symptoms of the PMR.

The first medication that the doctor can give you is putting you under a medical procedure of a low dosage of oral corticosteroid, for example, prednisone. The treatment will begin with about 10 to 20 milligrams per day.

Polymyalgia Rheumatica does not improve without medical procedures. However, low doses of corticosteroids (such as prednisone) can relieve symptoms in one or two days:

The dosage can then get reduced slowly to lower levels. However, it is necessary to continue the treatment for 1 to 2 years. In some cases, patients may require treatment with small doses of prednisone.

Corticosteroids can cause a variety of side effects that doctors should monitor while handling with care if you are taking medicines.

You can also take supplements like calcium and vitamin D. These two supplements are essential to prevent osteoporosis.

Such medication isn’t the only one that your doctor can prescribe for you to improve your symptoms.

There are also some other medication that can help if you have Polymyalgia Rheumatica and looking for relief.

Expectations (prognosis)

Polymyalgia Rheumatica frequently disappears by itself after 1 to 6 years. You may be able to stop taking medicines at this point, but you should check with your healthcare provider first.

More severe symptoms can make it difficult for you to work or take care of yourself at home.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call for an appointment with your healthcare provider if you experience persistent weakness or stiffness in the shoulder and neck area, especially if you also have symptoms of general malaise, such as fever or a headache.