Polymyalgia rheumatica

Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) is an inflammatory condition which causes pain and stiffness usually in the shoulders, neck, hips and thighs. It can often come on quite suddenly, developing over one to two weeks. Symptoms are typically worse first thing in the morning and improve as the days goes on.

PMR is usually seen in patients over the age of 60. It is very unusual to see it in patients younger than 50.

It is important to note that PMR can be associated with another serious condition called giant cell arteritis.

About our service

PMR is usually managed by your GP with steroid tablets. Most patients with PMR will respond to steroid tablets quickly and then take them for 12 to 18 months, while slowly dropping down the dose.

Your GP may refer you to the rheumatology department if they are unsure of the diagnosis or if you are having difficulty dropping your dose of steroid tablets.

Treatments

Treatment is usually with steroids tablets (for example, prednisolone) at a starting dose of 15mg daily.

Because steroid tablets can cause osteoporosis or 'thinning of the bones' many patients are also given tablets to prevent this condition. These tablets could include a bisphosphonate, such as alendronic acid, and a vitamin D and calcium supplement.

If you are having difficulty dropping your dose of steroids then we can discuss additional stronger treatments to dampen the inflammation.

Patient information leaflets

We produce a wide range of leaflets which provide information about our services and about the treatment you might receive in our clinics or during your stay in hospital. 

We also produce these in different formats including large print, please contact the department you are visiting for more information.

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Useful videos

We have a wide range of videos which provide information about our services and about the treatment you might receive in our clinics or during your stay in hospital. 

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Information for healthcare professionals

Further information including referral criteria can be found at the Devon Formulary website

Last updated: September 20, 2022.

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