Polymyalgia rheumatica


The most common symptom of polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) is pain and stiffness in the shoulder muscles, which develops quickly over a few days or weeks.

You may also have pain in your neck and hips. Both sides of the body are usually affected.

The stiffness often feels worse first thing in the morning after you wake up, and starts to improve after about 45 minutes as you become more active.

Some people with polymyalgia rheumatica have additional symptoms, including:

  • feeling very tired
  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss
  • depression

When to get medical advice

See your GP if you have symptoms of pain and stiffness that last longer than a week. They'll investigate the cause.

When to get immediate medical advice

Contact your GP immediately, or call NHS 111 or your nearest urgent care service, if you've been diagnosed with polymyalgia rheumatica (or it's suspected) and you suddenly develop:

  • a severe headache that doesn't go away
  • pain or cramping in your jaw muscles that's worse when eating
  • pain in your tongue when chewing 
  • vision loss or vision disturbances, such as double vision

These symptoms may indicate a more serious condition called giant cell arteritis (temporal arteritis).

Page last reviewed: 23/01/2017
Next review due: 23/01/2020