Harvard Women's Health Watch

Strange bedfellows: Polymyalgia rheumatica and temporal arteritis

Two related inflammatory conditions affect different parts of the body.

After age 50, you can expect a little joint stiffness or muscle soreness the morning after a challenging workout or some heavy yard work. Usually, a hot shower, massage, or good night's rest will put things right. But for women with polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR), those common remedies aren't enough. PMR isn't a life-threatening condition, but it can severely limit your daily activities and take a heavy toll on your sleep and well-being. PMR can come on gradually over days or weeks or may appear suddenly. You may feel fine one day and terrible the next.

PMR is closely related to a potentially more serious condition called temporal arteritis, a blood vessel inflammation that affects medium- and large-sized arteries, especially those running from the neck to the head. A severe, constant headache is often one of the first signs. Fortunately, both of these disorders are highly treatable.

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