What is Polymyalgia Rheumatica?

Dr John Watterson, MD, FRCPC, discusses what polymyalgia rheumatica is.

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Dr John Watterson, MD, FRCPC, discusses what polymyalgia rheumatica is.
Video transcript

Featuring Dr. John Watterson, MD, FRCPC
Video Title: What is Polymyalgia Rheumatica?
Duration: 1 minute, 39 seconds
Title : What is Polymyalgia Rheumatica?
Polymyalgia rheumatica is a systemic inflammatory condition.  

It's a relative of rheumatoid arthritis. It has slightly different characteristics, which I'll describe to you.  

Polymyalgia rheumatica generally is a disorder in individuals over the age of 60. It's very rare to see people under the age of 50 with polymyalgia rheumatica.  

It's a disorder that comes on fairly abruptly, where one will suddenly have onset of pain and stiffness, generally about the shoulder and hip girdle, extending into the upper arms, extending into the thighs and the back of the legs.  

It comes on almost within a week or two.  Often, some patients will say it comes on within a day where they felt very painful, stiff, sore, had a difficult time getting out of bed, getting up stairs. Most will describe improvement through the day. As they get up and carry out their activities of daily living, things will become less and less.  

There may be associated symptoms because it's a systemic condition. It can also present with constitutional symptoms. Many patients will state that, for two or three weeks before the onset of musculoskeletal symptoms, they'll begin to lose weight, feel tired, sometimes have a low-grade fever. 

If you feel you have this condition and have symptoms that suggest the possibility that polymyalgia rheumatica may be a disorder affecting you, the most important thing is to seek medical attention with your primary care physician.  

He or she will run a number of tests, as well as interview you and see whether this may be relevant to your case. Most patients with polymyalgia rheumatica will be referred to a specialist thereafter. 

Presenter: Dr. John Watterson, Rheumatologist, Victoria, BC

Local Practitioners: Rheumatologist

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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