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Polymyalgia Rheumatica

Polymyalgia Rheumatica is a topic covered in the 5-Minute Clinical Consult.

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  • A clinical syndrome characterized by pain and stiffness of the shoulder, hip girdles, and neck. Patients may use the term stiffness and pain interchangeably (1).
  • Primarily impacts the elderly, associated with morning stiffness and elevated markers of inflammation
  • System(s) affected: musculoskeletal; hematologic/lymphatic/immunologic
  • Synonym(s): senile rheumatic disease, polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) syndrome, pseudo-polyarthrite rhizomélique
Geriatric Considerations
  • Incidence increases with age.
  • Average age of onset ~70 years

Pediatric Considerations
Rare in patients <50 years of age. The peak incidence of PMR is between ages 70 and 80 years (2).


  • Incidence increases after age 50 years. Incidence of PMR and giant cell arteritis (GCA) in the United States is 50 and 18 per 100,000 people respectively.
  • Predominant sex: female > male (2 to 3:1)
  • Most common in Caucasians, especially those of northern European ancestry

Prevalence in those >50 years old: 700/100,000

Etiology and Pathophysiology

  • Unknown. Symptoms relate to enhanced immune system and periarticular inflammatory activity.
  • Pathogenesis
    • Polygenic; involves multiple environmental and genetic factors
    • Significant association between histologic evidence of GCA and parvovirus B19 DNA in temporal artery specimen

Associated with human leukocyte antigen determinants (HLA-DRB1*04 and DRB1*01 alleles)

Risk Factors

  • Age >50 years
  • Presence of GCA

Commonly Associated Conditions

Concurrent GCA (temporal arteritis) in ~15–30% of patients; more commonly in females than males

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Stephens, Mark B., et al., editors. "Polymyalgia Rheumatica." 5-Minute Clinical Consult, 27th ed., Wolters Kluwer, 2019. Medicine Central, im.unboundmedicine.com/medicine/view/5-Minute-Clinical-Consult/116475/all/Polymyalgia_Rheumatica.
Polymyalgia Rheumatica. In: Stephens MB, Golding J, Baldor RA, et al, eds. 5-Minute Clinical Consult. 27th ed. Wolters Kluwer; 2019. https://im.unboundmedicine.com/medicine/view/5-Minute-Clinical-Consult/116475/all/Polymyalgia_Rheumatica. Accessed April 19, 2019.
Polymyalgia Rheumatica. (2019). In Stephens, M. B., Golding, J., Baldor, R. A., & Domino, F. J. (Eds.), 5-Minute Clinical Consult. Available from https://im.unboundmedicine.com/medicine/view/5-Minute-Clinical-Consult/116475/all/Polymyalgia_Rheumatica
Polymyalgia Rheumatica [Internet]. In: Stephens MB, Golding J, Baldor RA, Domino FJ, editors. 5-Minute Clinical Consult. Wolters Kluwer; 2019. [cited 2019 April 19]. Available from: https://im.unboundmedicine.com/medicine/view/5-Minute-Clinical-Consult/116475/all/Polymyalgia_Rheumatica.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - ELEC T1 - Polymyalgia Rheumatica ID - 116475 ED - Stephens,Mark B, ED - Golding,Jeremy, ED - Baldor,Robert A, ED - Domino,Frank J, BT - 5-Minute Clinical Consult, Updating UR - https://im.unboundmedicine.com/medicine/view/5-Minute-Clinical-Consult/116475/all/Polymyalgia_Rheumatica PB - Wolters Kluwer ET - 27 DB - Medicine Central DP - Unbound Medicine ER -