Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) is an inflammatory disease. It results in muscle pain and stiffness. It is most common in the shoulders, arms, hips, and thighs.


The cause is unknown. It may be due to genes and the environment.

Risk Factors

PMR is most common in people over 50 years of age. It is more common in women and people of European descent.


Here are some symptoms:

  • Muscle pain and stiffness in the hip, shoulder, or neck
  • Pain that spreads to the elbows or knees
  • Low energy
  • Weight loss without a known cause
  • Fever


You will be asked about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. PMR will be suspected if symptoms are there for more than 2 weeks.

Your blood may be tested.


Treatment leads to rapid relief within 24-48 hours.

You may have:

  • Corticosteroids—may be used for up to 2 years at low doses
  • Supplements, such as calcium or vitamin D and biphosphonates —to prevent bone loss due to steroids
  • Anti-inflammatory medications


PMR can't be prevented.


American College of Rheumatology

Arthritis Foundation


Health Canada

The Arthritis Society


Polymyalgia rheumatica. American College of Rheumatology website. Available at: Updated March 2017. Accessed June 5, 2018.

Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR). EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: Updated May 23, 2018. Accessed June 5, 2018.

Questions and answers about polymyalgia rheumatical and giant cell arteritis. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: Updated May 30, 2016. Accessed June 5, 2018.

Salvarani C, Cantini F, Boiardi L, Hunder GG. Polymyalgia rheumatica and giant-cell arteritis. N Engl J Med. 2002;347(4):261-271.

Soubrier M, Dubost JJ, Ristori JM. Polymyalgia rheumatica: diagnosis and treatment. Joint Bone Spine. 2006;73(6):599-605.

Last reviewed May 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Warren A. Bodine, DO, CAQSM  Last Updated: 5/11/2016