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Related condition – giant cell arteritis (GCA)

Giant cell arteritis

Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) is sometimes associated with painful inflammation of the arteries of the skull. This is called giant cell arteritis (GCA) or temporal arteritis and needs prompt treatment as there’s a risk of damage to the arteries of the eyes. About 20% of people with PMR also develop GCA, while 40–60% of people with GCA also have symptoms of PMR.

The symptoms of GCA are:

  • severe headaches and pain in the muscles of your head
  • tenderness at your temples
  • pain in your jaw, tongue or the side of your face when chewing
  • pain or swelling in your scalp
  • blurred or double vision

You should see your doctor straight away if you develop any of these symptoms. If your doctor suspects giant cell arteritis, you may be referred to a specialist and be asked to have a biopsy of the temporal artery. A small piece of the artery will be taken from the scalp and examined under a microscope.

Temporal artery

However, your doctor may start you on a high dose of steroids even before you see the specialist as a precaution against possible loss of vision.


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