Understanding Polymyalgia Rheumatica

Polymyalgia rheumatica is an inflammatory disorder that causes muscle pain and stiffness. Patients suffer from this pain and stiffness often occurs in the shoulders, beck, upper arms and hips. Symptoms actually come on pretty quickly, with signs in the first 2 weeks. This disease mostly develops in those older than 65 and it rarely affects patients under 50. 

This disorder is related to another inflammatory disorder called giant cell arthritis. This causes headaches, vision impairment, jaw pain among other symptoms such as:

  • Aches or pain in your shoulders (often the first symptom)
  • Aches or pain in your neck, upper arms, buttocks, hips or thighs
  • Stiffness in affected areas, particularly in the morning or after being inactive for a long time, such as a long car ride
  • Limited range of motion in affected areas
  • Pain or stiffness in wrists or knees (less common)
  • Mild or low-grade fever
  • Fatigue
  • A general feeling of not being well (malaise)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Depression

Polymyalgia Rheumatica is caused by genetics or a certain environmental exposure. New cases tend to come in cycles and develop seasonally. This suggests there could be an environmental trigger such as a virus, but a specific one hasn't been identified. On the other hand, certain genes and variations in some genes may increase your susceptibility to developing the disorder. 

Polymyalgia Rheumatica is diagnosed through a suggested history and thorough physical examination from a doctor. A physician should note any frequent muscle tenderness and joint pain, especially swelling. Blood tests for inflammation usually result in abnormal which is identified through an elevation in the C-reactive protein. Diagnosis relies mostly on the characteristic history of the patient, combined with joint and muscle pain and in association elevated blood tests for inflammation, since there are no specific screening tests. X-rays may be performed to further indicate muscle and joint pain. 

All treatment for Polymyalgia Rheumatica is focused solely on reducing inflammation. Some patients do have mild symptoms and these can simply be improved with anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin or ibuprofen. Others respond best to low doses of cortisone medications (steroid meducations). 


Foods to fight inflammation: 

  • Fish: Rich in omega-3 fatty acids prevents inflammation. Generally oily fish like salmon are a great source. But all fish contain this vital nutrient. 
  • Extra-virgin Olive Oil: Olive oil reduces the intake of omega-6. A vital part of the Mediterranean diet which studies have shown may be linked to reducing the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Coffee: Recent studies have shown coffee may help reduce the symptoms of arthritis. The chlorogenic acid help fight inflammation, making both decaf and regular being beneficial.
  • Antioxidants: Fruits and vegetables are a great source of antioxidants. We've talked a lot about blueberries being a rich source of antioxidants which reduces inflammation.
    • Berries
    • Broccoli
    • Spinach
    • Sweet potatoes
    • Squash
    • Carrots
    • Tomatoes
    • Melons
    • Papaya
    • Grapes
  • Whole grains: These foods reduce inflammatory markers in the body to prevent exaggeration of arthritic symptoms.
    • Oatmeal
    • Barley
    • Brown rice
    • Whole-wheat pasta and bread
  • Ginger: One of the most natural remedies for fighting inflammation. Studies have shown that this root acts in a medicinal way to reduce inflammation.
  • Turmeric: Curcumin which is the component that gives turmeric its signature color works as a powerful antioxidant full of anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. 
  • Vitamin C:
    • Bell Peppers
    • Oranges
    • Mango
    • Strawberries
    • Broccoli