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Polymyalgia rheumatica - Symptoms of polymyalgia rheumatica

NHS Choices Medical Reference

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The most common symptom of

polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) is pain and stiffness in the shoulder muscles which develops quickly over a few days or weeks.

The muscles in the neck and hips are also often affected.

You may only notice pain and stiffness in one side of your body at first, but both sides are usually affected as the condition progresses.

The stiffness usually feels worse first thing in the morning after you wake up and starts to improve after about 45 minutes as you become more active.

Some people with polymyalgia rheumatica have additional symptoms, including:

  • a mild high temperature (fever) of 37-38°C (98.6-100.4°F)
  • depression
  • fatigue (extreme tiredness)
  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss

When to seek medical advice

If you have symptoms of pain and stiffness that last longer than a week, you should make an appointment to see your GP so that the cause can be investigated.

When to seek immediate medical advice

You should seek immediate medical advice if you have been diagnosed with polymyalgia rheumatica (or the condition is suspected) and you suddenly develop:

  • a persistent and severe headache
  • jaw pain or cramping in your jaw muscles which is worse when you are eating
  • vision loss or vision disturbances, such as double vision

These symptoms may indicate a more serious condition called giant cell arteritis (temporal arteritis).

If you have any of the above symptoms, call your GP immediately for advice. If this is not possible, call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47 or contact your local out of hours service.

Medical Review: January 28, 2013
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