The medical profession lacks precise knowledge of what causes polymyalgia rheumatica or PMR, although they have linked the disorder to the immune system. PMR affects people over 50 and is most common around age 70, which suggests aging plays a role in its development. This disorder is also more frequent in women and people of northern European heritage. Genetic factors play a role in polymyalgia rheumatica, although research suggests that exposure to some viruses or bacteria may play a role. Corticosteroid treatment can resolve the symptoms of polymyalgia rheumatica quickly. The treatment must continue to keep controlling symptoms, but doctors can usually reduce the dose over time.
Aching shoulder muscles are a telltale symptom of PMR. Studies reveal that 95 percent of people with the disorder experience them, usually on both sides of the body. Many individuals also develop pain and stiffness in the neck, arms, hips, and posterior. Muscles may feel especially stiff and tender after a period of inactivity or prolonged sitting. Stiffness upon arising in the morning affects almost everyone with PMR. In extreme cases, swelling of hands and feet accompany the pain.
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