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Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR)
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Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR)

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SENIORS' HEALTH

Bones/Joints/Muscles

Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR), an inflammatory disorder that causes widespread muscle aching and stiffness, especially in your neck, shoulders, thighs and hips.

Although some people develop these symptoms gradually, PMR can literally appear overnight. People with the condition may go to bed feeling fine, only to awaken in pain the next morning.

Self-care

Once you start taking medication for PMR, your pain and stiffness should greatly improve. But the suggestions below can also help:

  • Exercise regularly. Exercise can reduce the pain of PMR and improve your overall sense of well-being. Emphasize low-impact exercises such as swimming, walking and riding a stationary bicycle. Moderate stretching is also important for keeping your muscles and joints flexible. If you're not used to exercising, start out slowly and build up gradually, aiming for at least 30 minutes on most days. Your doctor can help you plan an exercise program that's right for you.

  • Eat a healthy diet. Eating well can help prevent potential problems such as thinning bones, high blood pressure and diabetes. Good nutrition can also support your immune system. Emphasize fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats and fish, while limiting salt, sugar and alcohol. Get adequate amounts of bone-building nutrients — calcium and vitamin D. If you find it hard to get calcium from your diet because you can't eat dairy products, for example, try calcium supplements. Supplements are inexpensive and generally are well tolerated and well absorbed if taken properly. Sometimes calcium supplements can cause constipation. Good food sources of calcium include skim, low-fat and whole milks; low-fat plain yogurt; Swiss, cheddar and ricotta cheeses; broccoli; canned salmon with the bones; tofu; and orange juice and other products fortified with calcium.

  • Pace yourself. Try to alternate strenuous or repetitive tasks with easier ones to prevent straining painful muscles. Use luggage and grocery carts, reaching aids and shower grab bars to help make daily tasks easier.

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Last Modified : 03/15/08 01:53 AM