Symptoms of polymyalgia rheumatica include stiffness and aching that concentrate in the neck, upper arms, thighs, buttocks and lower back, as stated by the American College of Rheumatology. Patients often experience a rapid onset of symptoms with some cases occurring overnight.
Stiffness and aches are always more severe in the morning, and patients improve as the day progresses, says the American College of Rheumatology. Symptoms affect both sides of the body equally and may affect the joints of the hands, wrists and other areas. Periods of inactivity such as long car rides can increase stiffness. If symptoms are severe, PMR patients may have trouble sleeping, difficulty getting dressed and trouble getting up from a sitting position. Patients often have difficulty raising their arms above shoulder height.
Although anyone over age 50 can experience PMR symptoms, the average age of onset is 70, states the American College of Rheumatology. Women are more likely than men to experience PMR. Patients who experience symptoms of PMR should consult a doctor for proper diagnosis, which may include certain blood tests and ruling out other conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. If the doctor suspects PMR, he may give the patient a low dose of corticosteroids, which eliminates PMR symptoms rapidly and completely.