ATLANTA The American College of Rheumatology has released the first classification criteria for polymyalgia rheumatica aimed at helping physicians identify patients with this condition, which occurs in persons aged 50 years or older who have recent onset of pain in the shoulders, neck and hips along with other inflammatory symptoms not explained by an alternate diagnosis.
Polymyalgia rheumatica is a relatively common cause of widespread aching and stiffness in older adults. It can be difficult to diagnose because it rarely causes swollen joints or other abnormalities on physical exam. In PMR, the aching is located primarily around the shoulders and hips, and the disease may occur with another rheumatic condition.
Until now, criteria to recognize polymyalgia rheumatica were not well established or tested. The pain and stiffness associated with PMR are common symptoms caused by other illnesses in older people. Additional factors that have contributed to low disease recognition include the lack of standardized tests to confirm the disease, minimal scientific research evaluating therapies, and the absence of genetic markers to identify disease risk.
The new criteria released by the ACR, in collaboration with The European League Against Rheumatism, will improve PMR recognition by defining the important disease features which are useful in classifying patient symptoms caused by this disease. The classification criteria will also provide a structure that will facilitate a better understanding of the disease and its course, and development of new therapies and clinical trials.
"The new criteria were developed by comparing patients with symptoms of PMR caused by a variety of conditions including rheumatoid arthritis and other conditions affecting shoulders and hips and patients with presumed PMR, and following them over a six month period. After six months, the investigators confirmed which patients had PMR, and what the charact
|Contact: Dawn Peters|