Treatment & Prognosis
PMR is generally very responsive to low dosages of corticosteroids (such as prednisone), a chemically-manufactured medicine that closely resembles cortisol, a hormone that your adrenal glands produce naturally.
Each patient will react differently to various dosages, and some types of corticosteroids come with a long list of side effects, so physicians should monitor patients closely to avoid over-prescribing.
With the correct dosage, fast and dramatic relief from the symptoms of polymyalgia rheumatica is often reported in just a few days.
Drug treatment can be tapered back slowly over time. Relapses of PMR aren’t uncommon, though frequent consultation with your physician will minimize the chances of a relapse. The most important factor to minimize relapse is to decrease corticosteroids slowly with your physician’s guidance.
In addition, close monitoring of side effects from corticosteroids is needed. Side effects include: raised blood sugars, elevated cholesterol and blood pressure, weakening of bone density, and change in mood.
Certain foods are known to increase inflammation in areas of the body, or irritate areas that can become inflamed; there are even certain foods that, due to their nature properties, reduce inflammation. Although difficult to prove their efficacy and measure their effect, patients are encouraged to talk to their physician about modifications to their diets.
The prognosis for PMR sufferers is very good; it is gone within two years for most, and can typically be managed well throughout its course.
Some people with polymyalgia rheumatica may also have, or develop, a more rare vascular disease called giant cell arteritis, or GCA, which causes inflammation and damage to multiple arteries, including the temporal artery, the blood vessel that supplies the head area.
It is also possible for PMR sufferers to also have undetectable rheumatoid arthritis – called “seronegative”, due to the inability of laboratory testing to detect a low-level rheumatoid factor.