Expert Polymyalgia Rheumatica Treatment in New Jersey is Just a Few Miles Away
Polymyalgia Rheumatica (PMR) can be a mysterious disease. Symptoms such as pain and stiffness may develop slowly, over many months, making a diagnosis difficult. Or, excruciating pain can come crashing down, overnight. It takes an experienced expert, like a rheumatologist at Arthritis, Rheumatic & Back Disease Associates (ARBDA), to make a correct Polymyalgia Rheumaticia diagnosis and provide state-of-the-art Polymyalgia Rheumatica treatment.
Fortunately, ARBDA has six offices in Southern New Jersey where patients can receive this advanced continuum of care.
Polymyalgia Rheumatica: Body Aches in Many Places
Polymyalgia Rheumatica (PMR) is a systemic inflammatory disorder that usually affects older adults, most often between the ages of 70 and 80.
Symptoms include widespread achiness, joint pain, and stiffness that usually occur just after waking. The disorder occurs more frequently in women, and in 15% of individuals with PMR, a serious problem called Giant Cell Arteritis (also called “GCA” or “Temporal Arteritis”) can also occur.
What Causes Polymyalgia Rheumatica?
To date, clinical research has not identified a single underlying cause of PMR. However, there have been genetic markers which have been shown to increase the likelihood of developing PMR and GCA. Likely culprits include the immune system malfunctioning, genetic predisposition, an infection that triggers PMR, or a natural byproduct of the aging process.
What are the Symptoms of PMR and Giant Cell Arteritis?
According to the Arthritis Foundation, people suffering from PMR experience pain and stiffness in at least two of the following areas: lower back, hips, neck, thighs, upper arms, and shoulders. Fever and fatigue are also hallmarks of the disorder.
In Giant Cell Arteritis, inflammation develops in the temporal arteries on the side of the head, which can lead to blindness or stroke. Symptoms include headaches on the side of the head, a tender, hot scalp, vision changes, and jaw pain while eating.
How is PMR Diagnosed?
Rheumatologists have specialized training and experience to expertly diagnose and treat individuals with PMR. Obtaining an accurate diagnosis starts with a physical exam, a family and medical history, and blood tests to check for inflammation (e.g., C-reactive protein, Rheumatoid Factor, and others) to rule out rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.
What are the Treatments for Polymyalgia Rheumatica?
Reducing inflammation and the symptoms it causes is a critical component of Polymyalgia Rheumatica treatment. Corticosteroids such as prednisone are highly effective medications for this task. Your physician will provide explicit instructions on how to increase steroid dosages, and later reduce them as symptoms are alleviated. Over-the-counter medications such as naproxen (sold under the brand name, ALEVE®) or ibuprofen may also be recommended to reduce pain and inflammation.
Most recently, a new, targeted biologic medication called tocilizumab (sold under the brand name ACTEMRA®) has been shown more effective than steroids alone in helping patients with Giant Cell Arteritis.