Living With Polymyalgia Rheumatica
Steroid medications, most often prednisone, are very effective at treating Polymyalgia Rheumatica.
Steroids work by reducing inflammation. Symptoms will often improve within 48 hours of starting treatment, and patients often return to normal within approximately two weeks.
Potential side effects can include weight gain and the development of osteoporosis, which causes people’s bones to become fragile and weak, predisposing them to fragility fractures more easily. Your doctor will often screen you for Osteoporosis at the time of diagnosis and start medication to help prevent Osteoporosis if needed during your treatment of PMR.
There are groups of people who could be at an increased risk of side effects, including those who have:
- High blood pressure
- A recent fracture
- A peptic ulcer
- A cataract glaucoma.
Even if you are feeling well, your doctor will plan to see you regularly to monitor for side effects of the medication. Frequent monitoring also helps to get you off the steroid as quickly as possible without a return of symptoms, thus reducing the risk of long-term side effects of these drugs.
You should notify your other providers that you are being treated for this condition and are on steroids. One of the biggest issues that affect patients and providers today is treating this condition if you also have diabetes, as steroids can greatly raise blood sugar. Patients must also work closely with their primary care doctor during this time if they have diabetes to keep their blood sugars under control.