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Temporal arteritis

  • Alternative Names

    Arteritis - temporal; Cranial arteritis; Giant cell arteritis


    The goal of treatment is to reduce tissue damage that may occur due to lack of blood flow.

    Your doctor will likely prescribe corticosteroids taken by mouth. Corticosteroids are often started even before a biopsy confirms the diagnosis. Aspirin may also be recommended.

    Most people begin to feel better within a few days after starting treatment. However, you need to take medications for 1 - 2 years. The dose of corticosteroids is slowly reduced.

    Taking corticosteroid medications for this long can make bones thinner and increase the chance of a fracture. As a result, the following should be started right away:

    • Avoid smoking and excess alcohol intake
    • Take extra calcium and vitamin D (based on your health care provider's advice)
    • Start walking or other doing weight-bearing exercises
    • Monitor the bones using a bone mineral density (BMD) test or DEXA scan

    Other medications that suppress the immune system are sometimes needed.

    Support Groups

    Expectations (prognosis)

    Most people make a full recovery, but long-term treatment (for 1 to 2 years or longer) may be needed. The condition may return at a later date.


    Possible complications, especially if the condition is not treated properly or promptly, include:

    • Damage to other blood vessels in the body
    • Development of aneurysms (ballooning of blood vessels) in patients with giant cell arteritis
    • Sudden vision loss or eye muscle weakness
    • TIA or stroke

    Side effects from steroid or immune-suppressing medications may also occur.

    Calling your health care provider

    Call your health care provider if you have a persistent throbbing headache and other symptoms of temporal arteritis.