No permanent reduction in bone mineral density during treatment of polymyalgia rheumatica and temporal arteritis using low dose corticosteroids

Scand J Rheumatol. 2000;29(3):163-9. doi: 10.1080/030097400750002030.


The objective of the study was to examine bone mineral density (BMD) in patients with polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) or temporal arteritis (TA) currently or previously treated with prednisolone. BMD (using single or dual x-ray absorptiometry) was measured in radius, spine, and hip in 26 currently and 28 previously prednisolone treated patients with PMR (n = 38) or TA (n = 16). The prednisolone treated patients were compared to 30 newly diagnosed PMR (n = 26) or TA patients (n=4) examined prior to start of prednisolone, and 70 healthy controls. No statistically significant differences were found between the groups regarding age, height, weight, and gender. For current users of prednisolone, the mean daily dose was 6.5 mg, the mean cumulative dose 7.7 grams, and for previous users 5.6 mg and 6.6 grams, respectively. No statistically significant differences in BMD at the different measurement sites were found between prednisolone treated patients and the two control groups. Similarly, no significant differences in BMD were found between current and previous users of prednisolone and between the prednisolone treated PMR and TA patients. In conclusion, BMD is not substantially reduced in PMR and TA patients currently or previously treated with mean low dose prednisolone. However, a tendency to a lower BMD was found in PMR/TA patients currently treated with prednisolone and in the prednisolone treated TA patients.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Aged
  • Bone Density / drug effects*
  • Bone and Bones / metabolism
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Giant Cell Arteritis / drug therapy*
  • Giant Cell Arteritis / metabolism
  • Glucocorticoids / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Polymyalgia Rheumatica / drug therapy*
  • Polymyalgia Rheumatica / metabolism
  • Prednisolone / administration & dosage*


  • Glucocorticoids
  • Prednisolone