Is There a Cure for Polymyalgia Rheumatica (PMR)?

Updated on August 28, 2019
EditorAnna profile image

I have PMR, and so do my mom and aunt... when first diagnosed, we had many questions about PMR for which we could not find good answers.

Source

I have PMR, and so does my mom, and so does my aunt... thankfully, we all had access to decent doctors, but still it was hard to find clear answers even to the simplest questions, like "when will it end?"

Even with ample access to doctors, resources, and the internet, we don't know exactly why our bodies are attacking themselves, what we can do to help ourselves (besides taking prednisone, which merely masks symptoms), or when (or if!) PMR will ever end.

Below, you'll find the best answers I could find. These are all the answers—from GP doctors, rheumatologists, researchers, and other experts in the field.

Below, you'll find answers to these questions:

  • Is there a cure for PMR?
  • How long will it last?
  • What about PMR pain? Does it ever end?
  • What causes PMR, exactly?
  • Are there any alternative therapies or treatments for inflammation?
  • Will diet and exercise help control PMR symptoms, and can symptoms be controlled by diet and exercise only?
  • What is inflammation, anyway?

Use this list to generate a discussion with your doctor. For more answers, read Difficult Questions About the Polymyalgia Rheumatica (PMR) Diagnosis.

Is there a cure for PMR?

There is simply no cure for PMR. Just as no one knows what causes it, there is no cure for it, either—although you may experience temporary or permanent remission (either with or without corticosteroid use), and if you start taking corticosteroids, your symptoms may lessen within 24-48 hours.

Your symptoms might lessen or end but no, there is no cure for PMR. Doctors will try to help you manage the pain, but since they don't know what causes it, they also don't know how to cure it.

How long will PMR last?

Nobody knows precisely when of if it will end, but for most people, the disease is "self-limiting," with an initial incident that lasts from 1 to 5 years.

When I asked my GP doctor, she told me that PMR is chronic, meaning it may persist forever. I didn't like that answer, so I got another opinion: I asked my rheumatologist the same question, she said most of her PMR patients recover in about 3 years... but a few unlucky ones may continue to battle symptoms for the rest of their lives. (Basically the same answer, only worded differently.)

Does PMR ever end?

Although most people do go into permanent remission, many do see relapses and flare-ups, sometimes years after the first symptoms.1

What about PMR pain? Does it ever end?

Since we don't know what causes PMR, we begin to associate it with its main symptom—pain—instead of thinking of it as an inflammatory disease. So for most sufferers, PMR = its aches, pain, stiffness, and other symptoms.

  • Those who take prednisone won't get rid of their pain entirely, but they can often control the dosage sufficiently to alleviate most of the pain, and the pain usually lasts, on and off, for 1 to 5 years.
  • Those who look for other, non-steroidal treatments will likely have less success controlling the pain, but its duration is the same: 1 to 5 years.

When I asked my GP doctor, she said PMR is chronic and may last forever. I didn't like that answer, so I asked my rheumatologist, who said most of her PMR patients recover in about 3 years, although a few unlucky ones may continue to battle symptoms for the rest of their lives.

What causes PMR?

Nobody knows what causes PMR. There are many theories—it's likely related to the aging process, perhaps it's genetic, maybe it's caused by a virus or an infection of some sort—but we don't know for certain the cause. Experts believe that things like smoking, obesity, alcohol, and chronic stress contribute to chronic inflammation, but still, nobody knows for sure.

What are alternative therapies or treatments for PMR?

Some call corticosteroids (like prednisone) "cures." But although they do mask the pain, they do nothing to identify or treat the underlying cause or condition. (If you're not sure you want to use prednisone, you might like to read I Don't Want to Take Prednisone for PMR: Are Corticosteroids Necessary?)

Some people report success with the following:

  • Diet: some believe that changes in diet can "cure"—or at least alleviate—PMR. The Anti-Inflammatory, Mediterranean, Keto, and Paleo diets are all anecdotally helpful. Controlling sugar and gluten may help.
  • Exercise: many say that they can control pain with exercise: although it feels counter-intuitive (and even injurious!) to move when moving hurts so much, many report that they are able to ward off or lessen their pain through gentle movement and exercise.
  • Anti-Inflammatories: many claim that NSAIDS, allergy-avoidance, curcumin, ginger, omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil), and an anti-inflammatory diet can help. For research and studies about spices, read Chronic diseases, inflammation, and spices: how are they linked?
  • CBD and THC: Many PMR-sufferers report relief using cannabis-based products to ease pain and CBD as anti-inflammatory.


Will Diet and Exercise Help With PMR Symptoms?

Can PMR be controlled by diet and exercise? That depends on many factors, including your levels of inflammation, your tolerance to pain, your age, and how healthy you are.

Exercise is extremely important for PMR. Regular exercise is essential to maintain joint flexibility, muscle strength and function. Regular exercise helps with managing pain and maintaining joint flexibility and muscle health. Other things that might help:

  • Supplements. Certain supplements may help to lessen inflammation. Omega-3s, curcumin and ginger may all help to reduce inflammation. Several spices may also help with chronic inflammation and inflammatory disease, including turmeric, ginger, garlic, and cayenne.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Over-the-counter NSAIDs like aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil), and naproxen (Aleve), can help reduce inflammation and pain, but long-term use can be dangerous. My doctor said I could take 3 Aleves (220 mg each) per day and after a year, we'd discuss alternatives.
  • My rheumatologist recommended a Mediterranean diet. A 2018 study found that participants following this diet had lower markers of inflammation.

Can PMR be controlled by diet and exercise only?

That still depends on your levels of inflammation, tolerance to pain, age, how healthy you are, and other variables. Many people claim to have treated PMR with diet and exercise alone, although there have been no studies. But even if you don't control it completely, diet and exercise will certainly help.

Exercise is extremely important for PMR. Regular exercise is essential to maintain joint flexibility, muscle strength, and function. Regular exercise will help control both physical and emotional symptoms.

What Is Inflammation, Anyway?

PMR is an inflammatory disorder. What does that mean?

Inflammation is how your body fights back. Whenever something attacks (an infection or toxin, for example, or if you get injured), your body sends white blood cells, antibodies, proteins, and increased blood flow to fight it. Your immune system triggers the release of antibodies and proteins, and increases the blood flow to the affected area. Usually, if everything is working normally, your body will only be inflamed for a few hours or days.

However, with chronic inflammation (like PMR), the response lingers for weeks, months, or years, putting your system in a constant state of alert.

What about you?

How long have you had PMR?

See results

Sources Cited

1Polymyalgia rheumatica can recur years after discontinuation of corticosteroid therapy: Docken WP. Clin Exp Rheumatol. Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA; Feb 2009

This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Questions & Answers

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      No comments yet.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, patientslounge.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://patientslounge.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)