Recent advances in polymyalgia rheumatica

Intern Med J. 2015 Nov;45(11):1102-8. doi: 10.1111/imj.12823.


Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) is a chronic inflammatory disorder of unknown cause characterised by the subacute onset of shoulder and pelvic girdle pain, and early morning stiffness in men and women over the age of 50 years. Due to the lack of a gold standard investigation, diagnosis is based on a clinical construct and laboratory evidence of inflammation. Heterogeneity in the clinical presentation and disease course of PMR has long been recognised. Aside from the evolution of alternative diagnoses, such as late-onset rheumatoid arthritis, concomitant giant cell arteritis is also recognised in 16-21% of cases. In 2012, revised classification criteria were released by the European League Against Rheumatism and American College of Rheumatology in order to identify a more homogeneous population upon which future studies could be based. In this article, we aim to provide an updated perspective on the pathogenesis and diagnosis of PMR, with particular focus on imaging modalities, such as ultrasound and whole body positron emission tomography/computed tomography, which have advanced our current understanding of this disease. Future treatment directions, based on recognition of the key cytokines involved in PMR, will also be explored.

Keywords: polymyalgia rheumatica; prednisolone; ultrasound; whole body positron emission tomography/computed tomography.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Giant Cell Arteritis / diagnosis
  • Giant Cell Arteritis / epidemiology
  • Giant Cell Arteritis / therapy
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Polymyalgia Rheumatica / diagnosis*
  • Polymyalgia Rheumatica / epidemiology
  • Polymyalgia Rheumatica / therapy*


  • Glucocorticoids