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Controlling PMR with OTC meds

Hi Folks, My rheumatologist is leaning towards my condition as PMR. Originally, she thought it was RA but I do not have the swelling in the joints. Also, I just had a temporal artery biopsy that came back negative. My pain at this point runs from annoying to uncomfortable. It has never been to a point that I found it unmanageable. Also, right now my pain is in my arms and shoulders. I asked her if I could control it with over the counter meds and she said if that works then it's ok. Has anyone here been able to carry on with just OTCs? I would really prefer not to be on prednisone if possible. I was on 20mg of prednisone for about 3 weeks and my ESR and CRP rates did lower to normal but there didn't seem to be a reduction in the pain. Could PMR get worse (have had this 7 months now)? I have also been dealing with osteoarthritis in hip and knees. I had hip replacement on April 30 which was very successful and now waiting for knee replacement and will probably have to have other knee replaced at some point. It is because of the upcoming surgery I was taken off of prednisone.

4 Replies

Hi beccab , if it really is PMR then the answer is most probably No!

I have never heard anyone say it can be, but I doubt if they would be on this forum anyway.

I can only tell you my experience. I had undiagnosed PMR for at least fifteen months - stiff, painful, immobile shoulders, which my dr thought was frozen shoulder. Fatigue, which she couldn't explain. I had cortisone injections for my shoulder, which didn't work so I resorted to ibruprofen, which although helped a little at beginning, certainly didn't as pain and inflammation increased. In fact I took so many, day and night, that I kept a diary to ensure I didn't overdose!

Still undiagnosed, I then developed GCA, unbeknown to me (never heard of PMR or GCA) and ended up after weeks of typical head pains in hospital having lost sight in one eye.

Knowing what I know now, I wonder how I could have got to that point, but hindsight is a wonderful thing, and I had lots if other things going on in my life, being a carer for my late husband being the main one.

I realise my case is an extreme one, but, unfortunately not unique, although usually it's when people don't know they have PMR it happens. If you do know you have it, then I would say take the Pred (I wish I'd had that option), because, sure as eggs are eggs you'll end up taking anyway, but in much larger doses.

Sorry to waffle on, but, as you can appreciate I am concerned that others don't have my experiences.

You may be ok with OTC, medicines but be very aware.


I went for several months trying OTC products, the pain then got so bad that I could hardly move, even get dressed. Steroids really were a wonder drug. One lady went on for five years before taking pred. The real thing is to prove you actually have PMR. If you found 20mg of pred did not make much difference to the pain it possibly is not PMR. There are other things that are similar to PMR which should be discounted including vit D deficiency. Have you had your vit D checked?


Thank you for your replies. I think you are right in that there is not a definite diagnosis. Once I get my knee replaced (next week), I will be able to get together with my rheumatologist and see where to go from here.

My Vit D was checked. The range is 30-? and mine was 29. I've been taking Vit D since about Nov.


Forget OTC, they won't touch PMR. You Rheumy should have used the exclusion tests as provided to s/he by the society s/he belongs to ie British Society Of Rheumatologists Diagnosis and Treatment of Polymyalgia Rheumatica. There is no excuse for a Consultant Rheumatologist not diagnosing properly.

There is an excuse for the GP, whilst those guidelines are available, on this site, the NHS site, PMR GCA all three websites and of course the BSR site.

Change your consultant.


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