Steroid tablets

Steroid tablets are the most common treatment for polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR). They are not a cure but they can reduce your symptoms symptoms within a day or 2 once you start treatment. Your treatment will probably last for 2 years or more depending on your symptoms.

Your doctor may suggest you also take the following:

- bisphosphonates such as risedronate or alendronate to protect you against developing osteoporosis

- painkillers or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce your pain and stiffness

If you are finding that your symptoms are not improving with steroids, you may be sent by your doctor to see a specialist who may prescribe methotrexate tablets alongside the steroid tablets. Methotrexate is used to treat several different types of rheumatic disease including polymyalgia rheumatica. Because one of its actions is to reduce the activity of the immune system, it can leave you prone to infection and it is important to tell your doctor immediately if you develop a sore throat, fever, bruising or bleeding or any other new symptoms

It’s important to have regular check-ups and blood tests when you’re taking methotrexate so its effects can be monitored. It can cause side-effects, such as feeling sick or mouth ulcers.

More rarely it can cause more serious side-effects in the blood, liver or lungs. Most of these are picked up by the regular blood tests and get better if the drug is stopped.

Methotrexate is usually only given to people whose symptoms keep coming back. As the methotrexate takes effect it’s usually possible to reduce the dose of prednisolone.

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