Aches and pains in the shoulders constitute the most common polymyalgia rheumatica symptom, according to Mayo Clinic, and it usually affects both shoulders. Other symptoms include aches and pains in the neck, upper thighs, buttocks, upper arms and hips. MedicineNet adds that the onset of the disease is sudden.
Other symptoms of polymyalgia rheumatica include a low fever, extreme tiredness, malaise, depression and unintended weight loss, according to Mayo Clinic, and the weight loss is made worse because patients often lose their appetites. The affected muscles are also weak and tender, according to MedicineNet, and most people who develop polymyalgia rheumatica are over 50 years old.
Experts do not know what causes polymyalgia rheumatica, but most people who have it also have a condition known as giant cell arteritis, according to MedicineNet. Giant cell arteritis is an inflammation of the patient's arteries. The condition also puts patients at an increased risk for stroke or blindness.
Doctor give patient they suspect of having polymyalgia rheumatica a blood test, as MedicineNet reports. Although the tests do not provide for an absolutely certain diagnosis, they may indicate that the patient has abnormal levels of inflammation because of high levels of C-reactive protein and a high erythrocyte sedimentation rate. The results may also show elevated liver blood levels if the condition is present. Doctors usually treat polymyalgia rheumatica with cortisone medicines.