Polymyalgia Symptoms

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The inflammatory medical condition polymyalgia rheumatica primarily targets the hips, lower back, neck, shoulders, thighs and upper arms. Because symptoms frequently overlap with those of other conditions, diagnosis is sometimes difficult.

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Man holding back (Image: Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images)

Symptoms

The main symptom of polymyalgia rheumatica are stiffness and aching in affected areas, fatigue, decreased red blood cells (anemia) and weight loss. Some sufferers also experience a moderate fever.

Man in discomfort
Man in discomfort (Image: Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Causes

Polymyalgia rheumatica develops when joints and nearby tissue become inflamed after white blood cells attack the synovium, soft membranes that line the joints. While it's unclear why that happens, environmental and genetic triggers are potential causes.

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Woman running down road (Image: Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Progression

Symptoms may develop gradually or abruptly, and usually clear up within a year with medication and lifestyle modifications. Pain often targets only one side of the body initially and then spreads to the opposite side.

Man stretching back
Man stretching back (Image: John Howard/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Treatment

Daily use of corticosteroids, such as prednisone, is a common treatment. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen can alleviate symptoms of mild cases, but extended usage may produce complications.

Mand taking pain pills
Mand taking pain pills (Image: Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Risk Factors

Most common among individuals older than 50, polymyalgia rheumatica occurs twice as often in women. Other higher-risk groups include caucasians and individuals who have giant cell arteritis, a medical condition in which certain arteries swell and become irritated.

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Woman washing face (Image: Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images)

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