Symptoms of polymyalgia rheumatica are pain and stiffness in the neck and shoulders that gradually spread to other regions, such as hips and thighs, according to Healthline. There is often a loss of flexibility. More general symptoms include fatigue, poor appetite, weight loss, low fever, anemia and depression.
Both sides of the body typically display the pain and stiffness associated with polymyalgia rheumatica, the Mayo Clinic states. Stiffness usually shows up in the morning or after periods of inactivity, such as extended time in a car. People who experience these sensations should consult a doctor when they first develop or if they interfere with sleep and other ordinary daily activities.
Symptoms of polymyalgia rheumatica are similar to other conditions, and no single lab test is able to diagnose it, explains Healthline. Doctors do physical exams to determine range of motion and collect data from blood tests. These measure blood levels of iron, protein, hemoglobin and white blood cells. Polymyalgia rheumatica most often appears in people over 65 years old, and it seldom occurs in anyone under 50, explains the Mayo Clinic.
A low-dose corticosteroid, such as prednisone, is often used to treat symptoms of polymyalgia rheumatica, Healthline notes. Side effects of these medications include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis, cataracts and depression.