Polymyalgia rheumatica and giant cell arteritis

Both diseases are autoimmune disorders and cause inflammation of the blood vessels throughout the body (vasculitis).

Overview

Both diseases are autoimmune disorders and cause inflammation of the blood vessels throughout the body (vasculitis). The symptoms vary, depending on the location of the inflamed blood vessel (mostly arteries). Dull pain and stiff muscles in the affected area are typical, however. Anti-inflammatory medication can provide relief.

Symptoms

Main symptoms

  • General symptoms such as fever, fatigue, involuntary weight loss
  • Sore muscles (in particular at night)
    • Typical locations: shoulder girdle, upper arm, pelvis, femur
  • Stiff muscles in the morning (for longer than one hour)

Other symptoms

  • Painful joints (arthritis, e.g. wrists, knees)
  • Pulsing, blinding headaches (around the temples)
  • Pain when chewing
  • Impaired vision

Causes and treatment

Causes

  • The exact cause is not known
  • Autoimmune disorder
  • Family history is a factor

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Blood test (inflammatory markers)
  • Ultrasound of the blood vessels (sonography)
  • Removal of tissue samples to examine under a microscope
Possible therapies
  • Anti-inflammatory medication (e.g. cortisone)

What can I do myself?

  • Continue your normal everyday activities as much as possible

When to see a doctor?

  • Persistent muscle pain
  • Stiff muscles in the morning (for longer than one hour)
  • Temple headaches, combined with pain when chewing
  • New visual disturbances of any kind

Synonyms

polymyalgia rheumatica, giant cell ateritis, horton's disease, temporal arteritis

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CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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