Conditions with symptoms similar to polymyalgia rheumatica or giant cell arteritis

A number of conditions have symptoms like those of polymyalgia rheumatica or giant cell arteritis.

Polymyalgia rheumatica

Medical conditions affecting joints and muscles that may cause symptoms like those caused by polymyalgia rheumatica include:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis , an inflammation of the membranes or tissues lining the joints. Symptoms include painful, swollen, and stiff joints.
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus , which causes inflammation and tissue damage throughout the body. Symptoms include fatigue, fever, skin rashes, and muscle and joint pain.
  • Polymyositis, an inflammatory muscle disease. Symptoms include muscle weakness, joint pain, difficulty in swallowing, fever, fatigue, and weight loss.
  • Spondyloarthropathy, diseases of the spinal joints. Symptoms include pain, morning stiffness, and fatigue.
  • Fibromyalgia . Symptoms include widespread muscle and soft tissue pain and tenderness, especially in the trunk, neck, and shoulders.
  • Joint problems such as bursitis and tendinopathy. These problems usually happen in one joint but sometimes can be on both sides of the body, such as in both shoulders.
    • Bursitis is an inflammation of a bursa, a small sac of fluid that cushions and lubricates areas where tissues rub against one another. Symptoms include pain and swelling.
    • Tendinopathy is an injury to a tendon. Symptoms include pain and tenderness.
  • Osteoarthritis . Symptoms include pain, stiffness, and sometimes swelling.
  • Remitting seronegative symmetric synovitis with pitting edema (RS3PE), a rare condition. Symptoms include swelling of the hands.

Other medical conditions that may cause symptoms like those caused by polymyalgia rheumatica include:

Giant cell arteritis

Medical conditions that cause symptoms like those caused by giant cell arteritis include:

  • Takayasu's arteritis, a disease that affects the aorta and the arteries in the lung. Symptoms include vision problems.
  • Inflammation of blood vessels (vasculitis) of the central nervous system. Symptoms are similar to those of a stroke, such as loss of vision, inability to use an arm or a leg, or difficulty speaking.

Last Updated: April 14, 2009

Author: Shannon Erstad, MBA/MPH

Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Richa Dhawan, MD - Rheumatology

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