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Polymyalgia Rheumatica

Diagnosis & Expected Duration

Monday, Aug. 27, 2007; 7:46 PM

Copyright Harvard Health Publications 2007


Your doctor will diagnose this condition based on a physical examination and your description of symptoms. Certain symptoms, such as headache, jaw pain when you chew or high fever, may suggest the presence of giant cell arteritis. A blood test to measure inflammation throughout the body, called the erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), often shows higher results in people with polymyalgia rheumatica. This test may be helpful both to diagnose the condition and to check whether treatment is working.

Expected Duration

Without treatment, polymyalgia rheumatica sometimes goes away on its own over several years. With treatment, symptoms lessen or go away within days. Treatment is generally necessary for at least six months and often one to two years because symptoms tend to come back if you stop or reduce your treatment.

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