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Diagnosis | Polymyalgia Rheumatica | PMR
Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) is an inflammatory condition that causes pain and stiffness in the shoulders and usually also the hips. Sometimes, PMR is mistaken for another type of inflammatory arthritis called rheumatoid arthritis (RA). That’s because RA can start in the joints of the shoulders, causing pain and stiffness. But with RA, other joints usually become affected over time, such as the wrist or hand. Polymyalgia rheumatica affects only the joints surrounding the shoulders and the hips.
Certain other conditions can act like PMR, but are not related to any type of arthritis at all. For example, some types of cancer, heart infections, and thyroid conditions can cause fatigue and stiffness in areas including the shoulders and hips.
What causes PMR?
At this time, we don’t know exactly what causes PMR or why some people get it but others don’t. What we do know is that people with PMR have inflammation in the joints and structures surrounding the joints of the shoulders and hips. These joints are located deep under the tissues of the body, so there is usually no swelling to be seen.
Who gets PMR?
People who develop PMR are older than 50. The condition is not that uncommon: it is estimated that 1 in 133 adults over the age of 50 has PMR. Women are more likely to get PMR than men.
How is PMR diagnosed?
PMR is properly diagnosed by someone familiar with the condition (like a rheumatologist). The initial suspicion for PMR comes from a history of pain in the shoulder and hip regions in an older individual along with morning stiffness and fatigue. There are many things that can look like PMR so a careful assessment is important. Following this a thorough physical examination is necessary to help exclude other conditions. Finally, investigations including blood tests and x-rays are helpful to support the diagnosis.
What tests are done to diagnose PMR?
The tests done to help diagnose PMR are blood tests that look for “inflammation”. Two common tests used to look for inflammation include the Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR) and the C-Reactive Protein (CRP).
Read more – Symptoms of Polymyalgia Rheumatica