The exact cause of polymyalgia rheumatica is unknown. Two factors appear to be involved in the development of this condition:
- Genetics. Certain genes and gene variations may increase your susceptibility.
- An environmental exposure. New cases of polymyalgia rheumatica tend to come in cycles and may develop seasonally. This 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 can cause headaches, jaw pain, vision problems and scalp tenderness. If left untreated, it can lead to stroke or blindness.
Polymyalgia rheumatica and giant cell arteritis may actually be the same disease but with different manifestations. The overlap between the two diseases is significant:
Sept. 17, 2015
- About 20 percent of people with polymyalgia rheumatica also have signs and symptoms of giant cell arteritis.
- About half of the people with giant cell arteritis may also have polymyalgia rheumatica.
- Kermani TA, et al. Polymyalgia rheumatica. The Lancet. 2013;381:63.
- AskMayoExpert. Polymyalgia rheumatica. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2015.
- Bhaskar D, et al. 2012 provisional classification criteria for polymyalgia rheumatica: A European League Against Rheumatism/American College of Rheumatology collaborative initiative. Arthritis & Rheumatism. 2012;64:943.
- Kermani TA, et al. Advances and challenges in the diagnosis and treatment of polymyalgia rheumatica. Therapeutic Advances in Musculoskeletal Disease. 2014;6:8.
- Wyand CM, et al. Giant-cell arteritis and polymyalgia rheumatica. New England Journal of Medicine. 2014;371:50.
- Salvarani C, et al. Clinical features of polymyalgia rheumatica and giant cell arteritis. Nature Reviews Rheumatology. 2012;8:509.
- Matteson EL, et al. Diagnosis and assessment of polymyalgia rheumatica: A step forward. Aging Health. 2012;8:395.
- Aikawa NE, et al. Anti-TNF therapy for polymyalgia rheumatica: Report of 99 cases and review of the literature. Clinical Rheumatology. 2012;31:575.
- Glucocorticosteroid-induced osteoporosis. American College of Rheumatology. http://www.rheumatology.org/practice/clinical/patients/diseases_and_conditions/gi-osteoporosis.asp. Accessed May 1, 2015.
- Saag KG, et al. Major side effects of systemic glucocorticoids. www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 7, 2015.
- Colditz GA. Healthy diet in adults. www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 18, 2015.
- Dejaco C, et al. 2015 recommendations for the management of polymyalgia rheumatic. Arthritis & Rheumatology. 2015;67:2569.