Polymyalgia Rheumatica is a condition that causes inflammation in the shoulders. We use the shoulders to do everything from moving to lifting and reaching. If you play sports like baseball and football, the shoulder is extremely important. Shoulder pain can be difficult to manage. When you cannot move your shoulder, it even makes sleeping hard. The shoulder is one joint of many. There are joints all over the body. Each joint is susceptible to inflammation. Polymyalgia Rheumatica makes the shoulder joint stiff and painful. There are several risk factors for the condition. Sometimes other diseases trigger the condition. There is treatment available for you.
Joints are the point where two or more bones meet. When you look at a skeleton, the bones are held together by needle and thread. If the muscles, ligaments, and tendons are removed from a skeleton, the bones would just fall and will not stay attached. In between joints are cartilage. The cartilage helps lubricate the joint and prevent the bones from rubbing together. Sometimes wear and tear can damage the joint. Inflammation tends to happen when there is damage, but in some cases, you experience inflammation for no reason. This inflammation may cause damage instead of repair it.
Causes of Polymyalgia Rheumatica
There are a few different causes and risk factors of Polymyalgia Rheumatica. Genes are a major cause of the problem. Polymyalgia Rheumatica tends to run in the family. External factors can also play a role in Polymyalgia Rheumatica. You may not think seasons matter, but when the temperature is cold, it can trigger symptoms. You may notice that in the cold, your joints seem very stiff. Things tend to get better when it is warm. Viruses are another problem. Conditions like giant cell arteritis may also cause the disease. Giant cell arteritis is the inflammation of the lining of the arteries. When the arteries swell, blood flow is limited. Although the disease affects the arteries in the head, it has a lot of connections to Polymyalgia Rheumatica. Nearly 20% of people with Polymyalgia Rheumatica also have giant cell arteritis. It is rare to see the condition in young people. It does not typically affect you until you reach your 70s. Women are also at a higher risk for the condition than men.
Symptoms of Polymyalgia Rheumatica
When dealing with Polymyalgia Rheumatica, you will notice a lot of pain and stiffness. Most often than not, the pain is felt in the shoulders. The shoulder pain spreads to the neck and arms as well. Although uncommon, you may also have pain in the wrists, hips, thighs, and butt too. The worst of your symptoms are experienced in the morning and sometimes when you are not moving for long periods. You become very stiff which limits your range of motion. Fatigue and fever can happen as well. It is rare, but you could have weight loss, depression, and do not feel well at all. Getting up and putting pressure on the shoulder makes things worse. Simple things like combing your hair, taking a bath, and getting dressed are very hard. Your whole life is affected, and you may stop exercising and lose some of your independence.
A physical exam is the first step in reaching a diagnosis. The doctor will move your body in different positions to see whether or not you feel pain or have stiffness. These body manipulations also help to rule out other reasons for your pain. Blood tests are done as well. The blood tests reveal whether or not there are inflammatory proteins in the blood. If there are, it signals arthritis. MRIs are also done as a way to reveal if the joint is damaged. Damage to the joint will change the treatment. If you also have giant cell arteritis that has to be diagnosed. You cannot treat one condition and not deal with the other condition.
Corticosteroids are the most effective treatment. You start out with a high dosage and eventually the dosage is lowered. The steroid has the biggest impact on giant cell arteritis. It also helps ease the pain of Polymyalgia Rheumatica. Symptoms can start increasing again, so it is important for the doctor to give you the proper dosage of steroids to prevent the continual recurrence of symptoms. Vitamin supplements are given as well. Calcium and Vitamin D prevent bone loss from the steroid. Physical therapy is good too. By doing physical therapy, you can increase your range of motion and help get rid of your stiffness. If your symptoms are mild, you can take ver the counter medication. It is also good to stay at a healthy weight and eat right. Excess weight can make things worse. Try not to lift things too heavy either. If you need help, get help. You do not want to dislocate your shoulder or tear anything. That will only make things worse.
Polymyalgia Rheumatica is a condition that affects the joints. Like other joint conditions, it causes pain and inflammation. You should not ignore your joint pain. If you notice symptoms of Polymyalgia Rheumatica, get treatment now. Treatment can bring a lot of relief and allow you to get back to doing your daily activities.
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