Polymyalgia does not affect the joints or bones but instead it causes the muscles to become sore, tender, and stiff with inflammation. As mentioned, this disease affects the hips, thighs, lower back, shoulders, and neck. It is the muscles that are affected, and special attention must be given to particularly supportive muscles like around the neck and the lower back.
What is known is that the disease causes blood cells in the muscle become swollen. When the muscle has been inactive for long periods the swelling tends to be heavier, resulting in muscle being unable to respond appropriately. The stiffness causes the restriction in limb movements, and the pain is the result of pressure forming in the muscle as the body forces new blood to the limbering area.
Weakness is not a factor although many interpret the limb restriction as weakness. It is possible to experience low energy, fatigue, and loss of appetite. And there may be nights with slight fever, and sweating in some cases. Fever may also come and go during the day. Other conditions to watch for are Anemia and depression. The one to watch is depression. Its a depressing disease and it can affect the mental wellbeing of anyone. Depression will severely impact the capacity of the body to cope with this disease.
Demographic distribution is mainly white people over 50 years of age, women twice as likely as men, and predominantly in western society. As there are other symptoms that may be present or become present because of PMR, it is critical to seek medical assistance at the first signs. The illness can lead to serious complications and also possible impairment if not treated promptly.
If your doctor believes you have this disease he or she will refer you to a rheumatologist or specialist who specializes in diagnosing such conditions. A preliminary quick test is the EMG test. This test will pass an electric current through the muscles and the readings from this may indicate PMR possibility. However full diagnosis may require further test combinations usually with blood samples
As there is no known cure as yet, treatment is specific to swelling and pain reduction until the disease leaves on its own. The point to note is that the disease may develop rapidly in some people. This can be quite frightening, especially with the early morning partial incapacitation. The absence of knowledge to explain this also causes much concern.
PMR symptoms are bilateral, and as a result individuals may complain of fatigue, especially if they are unable to perform normal daily activities. A gradual encroachment of the disease will give rise to this perception, with everyday become significantly more obvious than the previous. Watch also for wight loss, loss of appetite, and a malaise (general ill feeling). And sleep deprivation is likely, and this will impact on the elderly in a number of ways. By now you should see that although the disease it self is not life threatening, possible by-illness has the potential to be, especially if compounded by 1 or more of these factors.
If the individual reports having pain in the sides of the head, especially when chewing, then this is likely to be GCA (Temporal Arthritis). Again the doctor should be consulted at the earliest possible sign.