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I have a dear friend who has developed polymialgia and giant cell arteritis. He is on prednisone but is concerned about the side effects. Also, his rheumatologist has not been able to successfully start reducing the prednisone because his general practi

By Anonymous November 12, 2017 - 10:18pm
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Practitioner gave him his first dose and it was not high enough to handle the GCA. Now, when the rheumatologist tries to gradually lower the dose, symptoms of both disorders return. Are there any natural remedies that might help him? Are these conditions inflammation of 1) nerve endings in the case of the polymyalgia and 2) arteries in the case of the GCA. Or are they an autoimmune disorder? He has been under high stress levels for the last 4 years having been widowed, having knee surgery, a cholosystectomy, and prostate surgery, and now this. Any suggestions?

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HERWriter Guide

Hello Anon

Thank you for writing.

Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) is an inflammatory disorder. It results in muscle pain and stiffness in the body. The effects are most common in the shoulders, arms, hips, and thighs. About 15% of people with PMR will also develop giant cell arteritis (GCA). GCA results in inflammation and swelling of arteries. This occurs most often in the head. If not treated quickly, GCA may cause permanent blindness.

The exact cause is not known. Inflammatory conditions tend to be due to some kind of problem with the immune system. Some evidence suggests that certain viruses could be responsible for PMR and GCA. Genetic factors may also play a role as well.

Symptoms of PMR will disappear without treatment within several months to years. However, treatment leads to a dramatic improvement. It can occur within 24-48 hours. Treatment usually consists of:

Corticosteroid medication
Anti-inflammatory drugs

Giant Cell Arteritis:
GCA must be treated before blindness occurs. The blindness can not be reversed. Treatment is usually a high dose of corticosteroid medication for about one month. This is then tapered to a smaller dose for maintenance therapy. This step usually lasts for at least 1-2 years.

There are no known steps to prevent either PMR or GCA.

There are no specific home treatments for these conditions but a very healthy diet and exercise can help. Aspirin may also help - he can talk to his doctor about that.

I understand the side effects of steroids - I avoid them myself due to the side effects. But it sounds like they are required for now. He may find yoga, meditation, massage therapy or talk-therapy helpful in terms of stress.
We wish him the best,

November 13, 2017 - 5:15am
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