Polymyalgia Rheumatica

Polymyalgia rheumatica is a condition that causes inflammation of the joints and the tissues around the joints. This causes muscles to feel painful and stiff, especially in the shoulder, neck and hip areas. 

Polymyalgia rheumatica is different to fibromyalgia, which is a condition that does not cause inflammation. 

What causes polymyalgia rheumatica, and how is it diagnosed?

The exact cause of polymyalgia rheumatica is not known. Some factors that may play roles in causing this type of arthritis include

  • Genetics
  • Environmental factors, such as an infection

But, this has yet to be proven in research. 

There is no single test to diagnose polymyalgia rheumatica; your doctor will diagnose the condition from your symptoms, a physical examination and blood tests that measure levels of inflammation. Some people may have normal blood tests, and symptoms can by like other types of arthritis. This means it can sometimes take several visits before your doctor can diagnose the condition. 

How can polymyalgia rheumatica be treated?

Firstly, make sure you have an accurate diagnosis. It is best to visit your general practitioner (GP) first, to get appropriate tests and to come up with a treatment plan. Your GP may also refer you to a rheumatologist, a doctor who specialises in arthritis. 

Polymyalgia usually involves medicines called corticosteroids. For more information about these medicines, take a look at our Medicines and Arthritis information sheet. 

There are also many ways in which the symptoms of the condition can be treated. Some of these are: 

  • Staying active
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Balancing activity and rest
  • Learning ways to manage pain; and
  • Acknowledging your feelings and seek support

Read further information on these topics in our free Information Sheets and our Arthritis Insights articles

Download our free information sheet - Polymyalgia Rheumatica

More information and support

Order your free information booklet 10 Steps to Living Well with Arthritis or download some of our handy information sheets

Register for Arthritis Assist to speak one-on-one with someone else living with arthritis. 

Join one of our online support groups to connect with other Australians living with arthritis. 

Register for our online exercise program, Arthritis Moves!