Polymyalgia Rheumatica and Giant Cell Arteritis (cont.)
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Exams and Tests
To diagnose polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) and giant cell arteritis (GCA), your doctor will do a physical exam and ask you about your past health and symptoms. Because the two conditions often occur together, it is important that your doctor determine which one is causing your symptoms. Giant cell arteritis can be serious and needs immediate treatment with higher doses of medicine than polymyalgia rheumatica does.
Age is an important factor in making the diagnosis, because these conditions rarely occur in people younger than 50. A limited range of motion in the arms may be a sign of polymyalgia rheumatica, and arteries on the temple or forehead that are swollen, lumpy feeling, or tender may be a sign of giant cell arteritis.
Tests that can help diagnose polymyalgia rheumatica and giant cell arteritis include:
Your doctor may confirm a diagnosis of polymyalgia rheumatica with a trial of corticosteroid medicine. If you have polymyalgia rheumatica, you are very likely to have great relief of symptoms within 2 to 4 days of starting treatment.
Tests that may be done to be sure another condition is not causing your symptoms include:
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