Have I got GCA?

Hello everyone, I've had a constant 'pressure burning' type pain in my right temple for approximately 5 weeks this pain is constant 24/7. I get occasional 'sharp zapping shooting pains' in the right temple lasting no more than 8/9 seconds. Pain behind my right ear, stiff aching sore neck and shoulders, pressure in my right eye.

I have seen the optitsion nothing wrong with my eyes. Doctor has sent my for some blood tests.

I have currently been off work the past 12 weeks with depression, stress and exhaustion and I'm taking 100mg of sertraline- I'm confused as to wether the sertraline is causing the pain or GCA? Many thanks

10 Replies

  • Hi Shazo29,

    Difficult to tell, a lot of your symptoms do sound like GCA, I had stiff shoulders as my initial problem for months before the fatigue, which increased over time. Then came the head problems, tender scalp, pain in neck and throat, and finally difficulty in eating, swallowing etc.

    It doesn't sound as if your head problems are as severe, but that doesn't necessarily rule GCA out. Has your doctor suggested this? Is this what he is testing for?

    I think it would be sensible to monitor your pains closely, I.e. When they are worst,

    Does anything specific trigger them etc. I used to keep a diary, in fact I still do. Hopefully, your blood tests will give GP the answer, but as lots of us know, not always definitively.

    If your optician has tested your eyes then it could be the medication you're on, but should your sight become blurred, then you need to get further advice. Local A&E Dept if necessary.

    Sorry can't give you the answer you want, hopefully you soon will. Take care.

  • Hello Dorset Lady, thank you for your reply. The doctor is testing for GCA but she said I'm far too young to have this (I'm 50). I actually have an appointment to see her tomorrow, but I'm just so worried it is GCA.

    My neck started to ache yesterday tilting my head back is very sore and the front of my neck under my jaw is sore. I will know tomorrow's hopefully. Thank you

  • Shazo

    Firstly, you are certainly not "far too young to have GCA" - it has previously been documented in someone in their 20's, and I once heard of a young lad in his teens who had been diagnosed with Temporal Arteritis (my friend's neighbour).

    Secondly, although your GP has hopefully included blood tests such as the CRP and ESR to look for inflammation, even if those test results are normal, it doesn't mean that you don't have GCA. One in five GCA patients never have raised markers of inflammation in their blood.

    In such cases where GCA is suspected, the Dr should start the patient on a trial dose of steroids and refer them immediately to a rheumatologist for confirmation and biopsy. Meanwhile, if you have a very good response to the starting dose within a few days, sometimes within hours, that is often taken as confirmation of diagnosis.

    Whether or not the Setraline is contributing to your symptoms will need to be decided by your Dr. But you mention being off work with "stress", and many PMR/GCA sufferers have described a period of stress leading to their diagnosis.

    I hope you will have a more definitive diagnosis tomorrow. Meanwhile, if you experience any sudden problems with you vision such as blurring or pain, take yourself straight to A&E - if it is GCA you will need immediate treatment with high dose steroids to protect your eyesight.

  • Thank you so much for the very informative responses. I feel so old, tired and achy it's horrible. I know there is something not right it's just not 'me' to feel this way. Thank you

  • Hang on in there, Shazo - we have all felt exactly as you describe pre-diagnosis so can so understand and sympathise with you. If it is GCA, as soon as you start treatment you will feel heaps better, and there will be plenty of us around on here to support you along the way. Stay positive.

  • Well, saw GP today she said bloods are normal. I explained I had neck pain, constant boring burning temple pain 24/7 (6 weeks now) and jaw pain. She has prescribed migraine tablets and told me not to worry. Very confused 😩

  • If at any time you develop any visual symptoms do go immediately to A&E/the ER. You are not too young for GCA (the guidelines now say over 50) and about 1 in 5 patients have normal blood tests.

    You mention jaw pain - what do you mean by that? Is it aching that starts when you are chewing and then goes away when you stop? If so, that is claudication and is typical in GCA.

    If the migraine tablets don't work - find another GP.

  • The pain is right temple and the jaw pain is under the right ear as I open and close my mouth also the pain is under the jaw both sides of the windpipe like someone has tried to strangle me. I have also stopped the migraine tablets as it says on the warning never take with sertraline which is the anti depressant the same doctor prescribed 😩

  • Constant burning pressure pain in my right temple, eye pain, blurred vision on and off, jaw pain when eating. Told to go to A&E eye hospital 9 hours later after eye tests, blood tests and eye scans. They told me my bloods are normal and I'm too young to have GCA. I'm really worried. What do I do next???? help!!

  • Ask for an appointment with a rheumatologist. They can listen to your temporal artery and tell if there is much activity there. Your symptoms sound familiar. GP's are not too familiar with GCA. Only when I developed excruciating shooting pain up the back of my head did my GP refer me and when the rheumatologist saw me he had me go to the drugstore immediately to get prednisone.....to protect my eyes....grateful

You may also like...