Physiotherapy Gold Coast

Polymyalgia Rheumatica

Polymyalgia Rheumatica (PMR) is a relatively common inflammatory disorder that causes muscle pain and stiffness. It can be painful and debilitating, but it’s very much treatable. In this blog we’ll be looking at the causes and treatment of Polymyalgia, and how you can manage your symptoms.

What is Polymyalgia?

Not to be confused with fibromyalgia, polymyalgia rheumatica is a disorder in which certain muscle groups become inflamed causing pain and stiffness – usually in the shoulders and hips, but it can also affect arms, neck and upper legs. It’s most common amongst an older demographic, typically not affecting those under 50. Polymyalgia can be a complex condition, so it’s important to seek tailored advice from a healthcare professional for diagnosis and treatment.

Polymyalgia Rheumatica Causes

The exact cause of polymyalgia rheumatica is unknown, but it produces inflammation and swelling which is due to your immune system targeting and inflaming the membrane lining the larger joints of your body. It’s thought that there may be a genetic reason for many cases of Polymyalgia with some gene variations more susceptible, as well as a possibility that environmental conditions – such as a virus – may cause an onset of Polymyalgia.

Signs & Symptoms of Polymyalgia Rheumatica

Pain and stiffness in the shoulders is the most common symptom associated with PMR and this typically develops quickly over a few days or weeks. The shoulder pain can often be accompanied by pain in the hips, neck, and upper legs. The pain and stiffness will likely be worse in the morning or after sleeping, and will slowly improve as your activity level progresses throughout the day.

A polymyalgia rheumatica patient may also have a combination of some more general symptoms that are listed below:

  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Depression
  • Fever

Polymyalgia Rheumatica Diagnosis & Treatment

A physical examination and analysis of your pain symptoms is the first step towards diagnosing PMR. Blood testing may be recommended to eliminate the possibility of other conditions that could potentially be causing the inflammation.

Treatments are aimed at reducing inflammation. This usually involves the prescription of medication to help ease symptoms. Your physiotherapist can provide exercises to reduce the amount of muscle weakness and wasting, prevent weight gain, and increase general mobility. This can also help with managing the secondary psychological frustration such as stress and anxiety throughout the treatment process. Moreover, your physiotherapist will assist in educating you on balancing rest and activity so that you can alleviate some of your symptoms.

Polymyalgia Rheumatica Prognosis

Typically, PMR treatment will last for a year or two, and you may require a low dose of corticosteroids for longer periods afterwards. As some of these medications can impact bone density, an exercise program is essential to minimise potential osteoporotic implications following medication use.

Think you might be suffering from Polymyalgia Rheumatica? Book in now and talk to one of our Core Physiotherapists.