Polymyalgia Rheumatica or Fibromyalgia?

It can be very difficult to distinguish between fibromyalgia and polymyalgia rheumatica. Both disorders have similar symptoms, including:

  • widespread pain
  • morning stiffness
  • depression
  • fatigue

To make matters worse, neither disorder has any clear cause, making diagnosis even more difficult. It is important to ask your health care provider for specific polymyalgia rheumatica tests in order to make sure you receive the right diagnosis for your pain.

Testing for Polymyalgia Rheumatica

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of polymyalgia rheumatica, it is important to be tested for the illness. Even if you have already been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, testing is imperative to rule out polymyalgia rheumatica.

Your health care provider will perform two blood tests to confirm the diagnosis.

Sed Rate

Sed rate is a measure of the time it takes your blood cells to fall to the bottom of a test tube. Referred to as erythrocyte sedimentation, blood cells fall faster when exposed to inflammation. A fast reading could indicate polymyalgia rheumatica.

Rheumatoid Factor (RF)

RF is a measurement of rheumatoid factor hormone in your blood stream. People with RF in their blood cannot have polymyalgia rheumatica.

Complications of Polymyalgia Rheumatica

Unfortunately, polymyalgia rheumatica is associated with some complications. 15% of polymyalgia rheumatica sufferers develop giant cell arteritis. Giant cell arteritis, also referred to as temporal arteritis, causes your arteries to become swollen and inflamed.

The condition particularly affects the arteries in the temples, scalp, neck, and head. If left untreated, giant cell arteritis can put you at risk of stroke, aneurysm, and blindness.

Treating Polymyalgia Rheumatica

Treatment for polymyalgia rheumatica tends to be multifaceted, and includes:

  • medications
  • proper nutrition
  • daily exercise

NSAIDS, like ibuprofen and naproxen, are recommended to relieve mild pain and swelling. The corticosteroid prednisone is also used to treat more severe pain. A healthy diet and exercise can help to manage pain and increase muscle flexibility and range of motion.

Table of Contents
1. Polymyalgia Rheumatica
2. Waking up stiff
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