Diagnosing polymyalgia rheumatica  

Diagnosing polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) can often be quite a lengthy process that involves several different tests.

This is because the condition shares many symptoms with more common health conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, which need to be ruled out first.


It is likely that a series of blood tests will be carried out.

Blood tests called erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) or C-reactive protein (CRP) are usually used to check the levels of inflammation in your body.

Blood tests can also determine:

You may also have a urine test to check how well your liver is functioning, as well as X-rays and ultrasound scans to assess the condition of your bones and joints.

Symptom checklist

After other possible causes of your symptoms have been ruled out, a checklist can be used to see whether your symptoms match those most commonly associated with polymyalgia rheumatica.

According to the most widely used checklist, a very confident diagnosis of polymyalgia rheumatica can be made if you meet all of the following criteria:

  • you are over 50 years old
  • you have pain in your shoulders or your hips
  • you have stiffness in the morning that lasts longer than 45 minutes
  • your symptoms have lasted longer than two weeks
  • blood tests show raised levels of inflammation in your body
  • your symptoms improve rapidly after being treated with corticosteroids (see treating polymyalgia rheumatica for more information)

Page last reviewed: 28/01/2013

Next review due: 28/01/2015