Best Ways To Treat Polymyalgia Rheumatica

January 8, 2024

Polymyalgia rheumatica is a painful condition that can really affect an individual's quality of life. Inflammation results in pain in the muscles, typically in the upper body, and sometimes the joints. Pain and stiffness, the most common symptoms, are generally worse in the mornings. Left untreated, the inflammation can cause damage to the joints and muscles. This painful condition is more commonly seen in the elderly, and it is not typically seen in those under fifty. Thankfully, there are several treatment options as well as steps patients can take to treat polymyalgia rheumatica.

Physical Therapy

Stretching and exercise are essential for individuals who suffer from polymyalgia rheumatica. Movement and activity help keep the joints and muscles flexible, and as a result, reducing pain and stiffness. These are especially beneficial in the morning when symptoms may be at their worst.

Physical therapy is an excellent way to get moving for patients who have not been able to move very well due to this condition. Physical therapists work with patients to restore range of motion to muscles and joints, which will help reduce painful symptoms. Additionally, physical therapists can recommend which exercises will be best to perform at home to keep the body limber.

Vitamin D And Calcium Supplements

Certain medications used to manage the painful symptoms of polymyalgia rheumatica may result in bone loss and increase the patient's risk of developing osteoporosis. If the physician feels a patient could be at risk, they may recommend taking vitamin D and calcium supplements as a treatment against the bone-reducing side effects.

Patients taking these medications or those who are at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis may be required to increase their intake of vitamin D up 1,000 IU per day and calcium intake to 1,500 milligrams per day. These supplements can easily be purchased without a prescription.


Certain medications known as corticosteroids are perhaps the first line of treatment recommended by a large percentage of treatment providers. Low doses provided in oral form are typically the norm, and prednisone is one of the most common types selected for the treatment of pain and stiffness associated with polymyalgia rheumatica.

These synthetic steroids work to reduce the inflammation that can cause pain and stiffness by blocking some of the response of the patient's immune system against their body. However, there is a risk of side effects when taking these medications, including loss of bone density, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

Assistive Devices

When patients are suffering from the pain and stiffness associated with polymyalgia rheumatica, it can be difficult to perform their daily tasks. While most of the time the pain and stiffness can be a major nuisance, in some cases these symptoms can be downright dangerous. Using assistive devices can help to make the patient's life a little easier and keep them safe during certain activities.

For example, rather than carry a bunch of items from one room to another, it could be easier to pull these items in a piece of rolling luggage with a long extendable handle for more comfortable use. Reaching aids really help when patients cannot stretch far enough without pain. For safety, patients may want to have bars installed in their shower or bath. Essentially, patients should take advantage of what they can find to use as an assistive device to make their life a little easier.

Healthy, Balanced Diet

While eating a healthy, balanced diet is something everyone should be doing, it is especially beneficial to patients suffering from polymyalgia rheumatica. Certain foods can help strengthen the immune system as well as reduce potential side effects caused by medications. It is especially important to drink lots of water and eat healthy fats.

Just as important as eating the right foods, it is also imperative to avoid the wrong types of food that could exacerbate symptoms. These foods already increase inflammatory response within the body, making it worse when a patient suffers from polymyalgia rheumatica. Individuals should avoid foods such as processed meats, red meats, highly refined foods, and foods high in fat or sugar.

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