Polymyalgia Rheumatica

Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) is a rheumatic condition that affects older adults, typically men and women over age 60. The average age of patients is 70, according to the American College of Rheumatology. Mount Sinai rheumatologists have extensive experience with this condition.

PMR affects the large joints and structures around these joints. It causes muscle pain, stiffness, and decreased mobility, particularly around the shoulders, upper arms, neck, lower back, thighs, and hips. It does not lead to muscle weakness, but causes intense pain. It can make it difficult to get out of bed, stand up from a chair, exit a car, comb your hair, take a bath, and get dressed. Symptoms are worse in the morning and lessen as the day goes on.

The cause of PM is not known. The challenge with this conditions is that there are no obvious findings on a physical exam. Typical symptoms include:

  • Age of 60 and over
  • Pain and stiffness

The diagnosis of this condition is reached with medical history, physical exam and blood work. Once diagnosed initial treatment typically includes prednisone. This condition usually responds promptly with prednisone with a noticeable improvement of symptoms within 24-72 hours of starting the medication.

Treated PMR may go into remission but often chronic treatment is required.

Why Mount Sinai

Mount Sinai’s Harry Spiera, MD, had a pioneer role in describing the first reported American cases in the early 1970s and helped to optimize the treatments.