Polymyalgia Rheumatica (PMR)
If you’ve experienced stiff joints and aching in your upper arms, neck, thighs, and lower back that is worse in the morning, you may have a bout of polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR). This whole-body pain usually comes on quickly, sometimes even overnight, and it can make it difficult to raise your arms over your shoulders.
PMR’s cause is not yet understood. What we do know is that it seems to originate in the joints, and unlike fibromyalgia, PMR causes inflammation. It is most common among Caucasians over age 50, with the average age of a PMR patient being age 70, and is more common in women than in men.
Unfortunately, the usual anti-inflammatory pain medicines such as aspirin and ibuprofen do not offer much help in the case of PMR. Instead, doctors are more likely to prescribe corticosteroids. If PMR is the problem, these drugs can respond quickly and dramatically, sometimes easing a patient’s pain after a single dose. This isn’t always the case, however, and treatment may take longer in some instances.