What Dietary Adjustments Can Help Manage Symptoms of Polymyalgia Rheumatica?

Polymyalgia Rheumatica (PMR) is an inflammatory disease that commonly affects people over the age of 50. This disease is marked by muscle pain and stiffness, particularly in the shoulder and hip areas. The symptoms often appear quickly and can severely hinder the movement and quality of life for the patients. While there’s no cure for PMR, it’s manageable through treatments such as medication and lifestyle adjustments. One critical area of lifestyle alteration is diet. Dietary changes could play a vital part in managing the symptoms and overall health of individuals with PMR. Today, we’ll delve into these dietary changes and how they can help manage PMR symptoms.

Understanding Polymyalgia Rheumatica

Before we explore the dietary changes, let’s understand what Polymyalgia Rheumatica is, the cause, and its symptoms. Knowing these aspects will give you a better grasp of why dietary modifications are necessary for managing PMR.

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PMR is an inflammatory disease that can cause muscle pain and stiffness. The exact cause of PMR is still unknown, but it’s believed that genetic factors and an overactive immune system may play a role. Symptoms of PMR include pain and stiffness in the shoulder, neck, and hip regions, fatigue, weight loss, and mild fever. These symptoms can be severe enough to disrupt daily activities. Doctors usually prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs and pain relievers to manage these symptoms. However, lifestyle adjustments, such as dietary modifications, can also significantly help manage these symptoms and improve the overall health of patients.

The Role of Anti-Inflammatory Foods in PMR

Inflammation is a significant symptom of PMR, and it’s this inflammation that leads to pain and stiffness. Consuming foods with anti-inflammatory properties can help reduce inflammation and, in turn, relieve the pain and stiffness associated with PMR.

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Anti-inflammatory foods include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Fruits and vegetables like berries, oranges, cherries, and broccoli are packed with antioxidants that can help combat inflammation. Similarly, whole grains like brown rice and oatmeal, lean proteins like poultry and fish, and healthy fats like olive oil and avocados also have anti-inflammatory properties. Including these foods in your diet can help manage the inflammation and improve overall health.

Reducing Sodium and Processed Foods in Your Diet

A high-sodium diet can lead to water retention and increase inflammation in the body. Processed foods are often high in sodium and can exacerbate the symptoms of PMR.

Therefore, it’s recommended to limit the intake of high-sodium foods like processed meats, canned soups, and fast foods. Instead, opt for fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains. These foods are not only lower in sodium but also provide essential nutrients that can help manage the symptoms of PMR.

Including Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Your Diet

Omega-3 fatty acids are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. They can help reduce inflammation and hence, the symptoms of PMR.

Foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids include fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts. By incorporating these foods into your diet, you can help reduce inflammation and manage the symptoms of PMR.

Importance of Regular Exercise Alongside Dietary Changes

While diet plays a vital role in managing PMR symptoms, exercise is equally important. Regular physical activity can help reduce stiffness, improve mobility, and boost overall health.

Exercise should be balanced with rest, though, as overdoing it can lead to fatigue. It’s recommended to engage in low-impact exercises, such as swimming, walking, and cycling, which are easier on the joints. Consult with your healthcare provider or a physical therapist to develop a suitable exercise plan.

In conclusion, dietary modifications are vital in managing symptoms of Polymyalgia Rheumatica. Incorporating anti-inflammatory foods, reducing sodium intake, and including Omega-3 fatty acids in your diet can help manage inflammation and relieve symptoms. Coupled with regular exercise, these changes can significantly improve the quality of life for individuals with PMR. As with any health condition, it’s crucial to discuss any dietary and lifestyle changes with your healthcare provider before implementation.

The Connection between Polymyalgia Rheumatica and Giant Cell Arteritis

Polymyalgia Rheumatica (PMR) is often linked with another inflammatory condition known as Giant Cell Arteritis (GCA). Studies available on Google Scholar and PubMed Crossref highlight that there’s a considerable overlap between these two conditions, with about half of the people with GCA also having PMR.

Giant Cell Arteritis, also known as temporal arteritis, affects the arteries in your head, especially those at the temples. This condition can cause headaches, jaw pain, vision problems, and even blindness in severe cases. It can occur independently but is usually associated with PMR.

The link between these two conditions is not fully understood. Genetic factors, abnormal immune responses, and environmental triggers such as infections are thought to play a part. The inflammation seen in both PMR and GCA likely results from the body’s immune system attacking healthy tissues, a process called autoimmunity.

This connection between PMR and GCA makes dietary adjustments even more critical. Anti-inflammatory foods, reduced sodium intake, and inclusion of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet can help manage the symptoms of both conditions. Also, it underscores the need for careful monitoring and regular check-ups as GCA can have more severe side effects like vision loss.

Use of Medications and Possible Side Effects

While dietary changes can offer significant relief, they are commonly used alongside medications for managing PMR symptoms. The most frequently used drug is prednisone, a type of corticosteroid. This medication reduces inflammation, easing the pain and stiffness associated with PMR.

However, long-term use of prednisone can have side effects like weight gain, high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis, and an increased risk of infections. Therefore, doctors usually aim to find the lowest dose that can effectively manage the symptoms.

Another class of drugs used for PMR are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These can help alleviate the symptoms but are usually not as effective as corticosteroids. Long-term use of NSAIDs can lead to stomach problems, heart conditions, and kidney damage.

This highlights the importance of not solely relying on medication for managing PMR. Incorporating dietary changes and regular exercise can reduce the dosage and duration of medication needed, thereby lessening the risk of potential side effects.


Polymyalgia Rheumatica (PMR) is a condition that affects the quality of life of those diagnosed with it. However, with the right management strategies, its symptoms can be controlled effectively. Dietary modifications, including the inclusion of anti-inflammatory foods, reducing sodium, and incorporating Omega-3 fatty acids, play a crucial role in managing the symptoms of PMR. Coupled with regular, low-impact exercise, these changes can greatly improve the quality of life of PMR patients.

The connection between PMR and Giant Cell Arteritis points out the need for careful monitoring and regular check-ups. Furthermore, while medications like prednisone and NSAIDs are effective, they can have serious side effects with long-term use, emphasizing the importance of dietary and lifestyle changes.

As with any health condition, it’s crucial to discuss any dietary and lifestyle changes with your healthcare provider before implementation. Keep yourself updated with the latest research on PMR by using resources like Google Scholar, PubMed Crossref, and the American College of Rheumatology. Remember, managing PMR is a long-term commitment, and it’s important to stay patient and persistent.