Disease Information for Polymyalgia rheumatica: Definition

  • A syndrome in the elderly characterized by proximal joint and muscle pain, high erythrocyte sedimentation rate, and a self-limiting course; Pain is usually accompanied by evidence of an inflammatory reaction; Women are affected twice as commonly as men and Caucasians more frequently than other groups; The condition is frequently associated with TEMPORAL ARTERITIS and some theories pose the possibility that the two diseases arise from a single etiology or even that they are the same entity--------------


    Cranial Arteritis;GCA; Granulomatous Arteritis; Temporal Arteritis (Horton"s disease); Polymyalgia Rheumatica;

    Giant cell arteritis is a chronic inflammatory disease characterized by the progressive inflammation of many arteries of the body (panarteritis); Granular material and abnormally large cells (giant cells) accumulate in the elastic lining of the arteries; Chronic inflammation is sometimes confined to the different branches of the heart"s main artery (aorta) and any large arteries can become inflamed; However, the temporal arteries of the head are most frequently affected (temporal arteritis); In rare cases, veins may also be affected by giant cell arteritis;

    The symptoms of giant cell arteritis may include stiffness, muscle pain, fever, and/or headaches; The exact cause of this disease is not fully understood, although it is thought to be an autoimmune disease that occurs when the body"s own immune system attacks healthy tissue;

    Giant cell arteritis is closely related to polymyalgia rheumatica, another inflammatory disorder; These two disorders have been described in the medical literature as possible variants of the same disease process; Some researchers believe they represent different ends of a disease continuum; The exact nature of the association is not fully understood---------[NORD 2005]-------------