The exact cause of polymyalgia rheumatica is unknown. However, there are two factors that appear to be involved in the development of this condition, including:
- Genetics. Certain genes and variations in some genes may increase your susceptibility to developing polymyalgia rheumatica.
- An environmental exposure. New cases of polymyalgia tend to come in cycles and may develop seasonally, which suggests that an environmental trigger, such as a virus, might play a role. But no specific virus has been shown to cause polymyalgia rheumatica.
Giant cell arteritis
Polymyalgia rheumatica and another disease known as giant cell arteritis share many similarities. Giant cell arteritis results in inflammation in the lining of arteries, most often the arteries located in the temples. Giant cell arteritis usually causes headaches, jaw pain, vision problems and scalp tenderness. It can lead to permanent vision loss.
Polymyalgia rheumatica and giant cell arteritis may actually be the same disease but with different manifestations. The overlap between the two diseases is significant:
July 20, 2012
- As many as 30 percent of people with polymyalgia rheumatica may also have giant cell arteritis.
- About half of the people with giant cell arteritis may also have polymyalgia rheumatica.
- Hunder GG. Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of polymyalgia rheumatica. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed May 9, 2012.
- Salvarani C, et al. Polymyalgia rheumatica and giant-cell arteritis. The Lancet. 2008;372:234.
- Gonzalez-Gay MA, et al. Medical management of polymyalgia rheumatica. Expert Opinion in Pharmacotherapy. 2010;11:1077.
- Hunder GG. Treatment of polymyalgia rheumatica. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed May 9, 2012.
- Hernandez-Rodriguez J, et al. Treatment of polymyalgia rheumatica. Archives of Internal Medicine. 2009;169:1839.
- Unwin B, et al. Polymyalgia rheumatica and giant cell arteritis. American Family Physician. 2006;74:1547.
- Glucocorticosteroid-induced osteoporosis. American College of Rheumatology. http://www.rheumatology.org/practice/clinical/patients/diseases_and_conditions/gi-osteoporosis.asp. Accessed May 9, 2012.
- Aikawa NE, et al. Anti-TNF therapy for polymyalgia rheumatica: Report of 99 cases and review of the literature. Clinical Rheumatology. 2012;31:575.
- Chang-Miller A (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 15, 2012.