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Home > Patients & Visitors > Health Library > Corticosteroid Treatment for Polymyalgia Rheumatica and Giant Cell Arteritis
Although corticosteroid treatment for
polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) and
giant cell arteritis (GCA) is similar, there are
differences in how much medicine you take, how long you may have to take it,
and how you track the condition.
The following table shows general
treatment guidelines for the two conditions.1
Amount of corticosteroid (usually
prednisone) you take by mouth (oral) until you have no symptoms and have normal
How long it takes before symptoms
go away or greatly improve
How long it takes for lab tests to
How often your doctor may reduce
your dose after symptoms go away and lab tests are normal
How long you may take
Your doctor will want to keep track of your condition and
how it is responding to treatment. Stay in touch with your doctor or nurse
while you are taking corticosteroids for polymyalgia rheumatica or giant cell
arteritis. And keep in touch for 6 to 12 months after you stop taking this
In both polymyalgia rheumatica and giant cell arteritis,
your symptoms may return after a period of improvement (relapse). If
you have a relapse, your doctor may increase your corticosteroid dosage for a
period of time and then gradually reduce it after your symptoms are gone.
How long you need to take corticosteroids depends on how severe
your condition is, whether it appears cured or not (remission), and how often you have relapses.
If you have polymyalgia rheumatica and do not have giant cell arteritis,
your doctor may suggest using
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) when you
are lowering the dose of your corticosteroid medicine. Always talk to your
doctor or nurse before using these medicines.
Hellmann DB (2009). Giant cell arteritis, polymyalgia rheumatica, and Takayasu's arteritis. In GS Firestein et al., eds., Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology, 8th ed., vol. 2, pp. 1409–1428. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier.
April 13, 2011
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Stanford M. Shoor, MD - Rheumatology
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