Sunday, March 20, 2011

Muscle Pains

Polymalagia rheumatica is quite common and is a well-defined syndrome. While it can affect many groups of muscles in different areas of the body, such as the neck, shoulders, back or the pelvis muscles, it does not cause atrophy of the muscles involved. The causative factor of polymalgia rheumatica is not known. It usually affects those 50 years and over, and will affect more woman than men, in a ratio of 4:1.

The constant stiffness and achiness can be extremely debilitating to the individual. Getting out of bed in the morning can be a daunting task. Daily chores cannot be performed with any semblance of normalcy. The individual may experience fever at times, as well as loss of appetite with weight loss, and a feeling of apathy. They can feel extremely tired at all times. Very often the individual with polymyalgia rheumatica may experience pains in the temperal region of the head. This can be due to another condition called "Polyarteritis" that often accompanies polymyalgia rheumatica. In polyarteritis, the medium-sized muscular arteries are inflamed, causing a reduction of the blood to the surrounding tissues. Although polymyalgia rheumatica is not a life threatening disease, polyarteritis can be, and should not be taken lightly. The individual may suffer from severe headaches and irreversible blindness can occur.

Should an individual find himself or herself in a situation that manifests itself as above, they should of course seek advice from their healthcare professional. The longer they wait places them in jeopardy. Their healthcare professional will do the necessary testing that will eventually lead to a definitive diagnosis. Having this definitive diagnosis is a must in knowing how to proceed with treating these conditions.

Health Hints***

Your healthcare provider will do several blood tests. The one that will prove to be definitive in polymalgia is the sedimentation rate. The sedrate as it is known, is invariably high in this condition. If pains are present in the temporal region, it is also advisable to see an ophthalmologist as well. The condition of temporal arteritis causes headache and can rapidly affect the arteries to the eyes, and cause blindness if left untreated. A blood test called ESR will be high. An arterial biopsy may also be necessary in order to have a definitive diagnosis. The condition often affects those 40 to 50 years of age, but can affect other age groups as well. It will also affect men more than women on a 3:1 ratio.

Polymyalgia rheumatica as well as temporal arteritis are generally treated with cortisone drugs. The patient with temporal arteritis will be started on cortisone (prednisone) immediately on a daily basis, and only will be reduced when the symptoms have subsided. For the patient without temporal arteritis, your healthcare professional may use other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). These drugs are prescribed in an effort to control the inflammation and pain. The individual affected with polymyalgia rheumatica and possibly temporal arteritis, should not depend on the drugs to find relief from the pain. Having enough rest is important so as not to overtax the body and the involved muscle groups. Hot showers (not extremely hot) can be used twice daily to relax the muscles and ease the pain. The use of a heating pad to the most painful areas will also prove helpful. Using an analgesic gel such as Biofreeze applied to painful areas 3 to 4 times daily will help control the pain. The most important thing that the individual can-do, is recognize the seriousness of their symptoms and seek advice from their healthcare professional. Above all, do not neglect it and feel that it will go away eventually. It may not, and it can indeed prove to be serious in its ramifications.

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