Polymyalgia rheumaticaLast updated: October 22, 2020
Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) is a common inflammatory rheumatic disease that mainly affects patients above the age of 50 years and occurs twice as often in women than in men. Patients typically present with new-onset pain in their shoulders, hips, or neck, morning stiffness, and systemic symptoms (e.g., fatigue, malaise, B symptoms, and depressed mood). In addition to clinical presentation, the diagnosis is made based on laboratory studies, which usually show a highly elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), while creatine kinase and autoantibodies are negative. Bursitis and serositis in the joints of the shoulder and pelvic girdle on ultrasound may also help to confirm the diagnosis. The most important step in the management of PMR is to administer a low dose of oral glucocorticoids and taper them slowly until full remission is achieved. Patients with polymyalgia rheumatica should be routinely monitored for symptoms of giant cell arteritis because this type of vasculitis commonly develops during the course of the disease.
Sex: ♀ > ♂ (3:1) 
- Most common inflammatory rheumatic disease in the elderly (second most common overall)
Age of onset: >70 years (rarely seen in patients < 50 years) 
- More common in individuals of Northern European descent 
Women of advanced age are particularly prone to the disease.
Epidemiological data refers to the US, unless otherwise specified.
- Possible contributing factors are:
Musculoskeletal symptoms: primarily affects shoulders, neck, and pelvic girdle
New onset, symmetric pain that is worse at night
- Morning stiffness (> 45 min)
Muscular atrophy and weakness: not directly caused by PMR but resulting from reduced activity due to pain and stiffness 
Other: symptoms of giant cell arteritis (if both diseases are present)
The differential diagnoses listed here are not exhaustive.
Low-dose oral glucocorticoids (alternatively IM glucocorticoids) 
Usually rapid response (2–4 weeks)
- If symptoms improve: slowly taper and eventually stop glucocorticoids
- No improvement after 2 weeks or relapse: increase dose
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