Being diagnosed with PMR is scary and upsetting.
Some people, like myself, prefer to see the big picture and want to know what to expect when diagnosed with a condition. Others choose to take one day at a time and don't want to be overwhelmed with all of the details of what may occur.
If you fit into the 1st category, read on as this article may help to give you some insight into the details of life with PMR. Keep in mind that everyone reacts differently and has their own time period for this condition. This article is designed to outline general insights into PMR.
So what should you expect when you have PMR?
The good news is that PMR is not fatal, and it may go into remission in 2 to 5 years.
Before you begin treatment for PMR, it is most likely that you are at your worst phase of the condition. Take heart, once you begin Prednisone or other medical treatment, if you truly have PMR, you should feel significantly better in 1 to 7 days.
Some people have very little pain and stiffness for the remainder of their course of PMR once treatment is initiated. They gradually taper off their medication and suffer few side effects of treatment. Luckily, their lives are not overly affected. They can continue to work, exercise and live life as they did before PMR. We all hope to be one of these fortunate folks.
However, many are not so lucky. PMR can be a daily struggle for years. I do not want to scare anyone, and I hope that you have a favorable period with PMR. I was not one of the folks who escaped side effects and setbacks. But as in every illness, there are those who are worse and better off than others. This is life!
Typical New Diagnosis Reactions Are:
- For the first few months, you will be getting used to the condition. It takes time to learn all about the medication, diet, triggers, blood work, and new doctors, etc. Can you continue to work, or should you take a leave of absence, retire early, change jobs or quit altogether? You may ask yourself, can I still keep up with the housework, exercise, and be as active as I was pre-PMR? For many, life has to slow way down due to fatigue and stiffness.
- These are TOUGH issues to deal with! You may feel depressed, angry, or hopeless. You will eventually get in the rhythm of PMR and wrap your mind around the disease and your "new normal."
- On the higher doses of Prednisone, you will have loads of energy and feel good but may have trouble sleeping at night. For some, Prednisone may make you feel weird, jittery, or nervous.
3 Months into Treatment Expectations Are:
- By now, you have the hang of PMR and have learned what works for you regarding what you can and can not do, maybe know some of your triggers, and how to "self-care."
- Once you have been on Prednisone awhile, muscle cramps and spasms, especially at night, become a huge problem. See the PMR blog on muscles cramps and magnesium.
- You may notice that tapering your Prednisone is getting trickier as you get to a moderate dose and that you have a few days after a taper with stiffness and fatigue.
- You may develop fat pads around your jaw and chin area otherwise called Moonface. In addition, you may develop a hump at the base of the back of your neck which is another pad of fat, called Buffalo Hump. This is a side effect of Prednisone and luckily does go away as you taper off the drug. Not everyone develops this disheartening cosmetic problem.
- You need to be on the lookout for some serious side effects of Prednisone, such as eye complications, diabetes, and bone loss (please talk with your doctor!).
Once You are on Lower Doses (7.5 mg or lower) of Prednisone You May Experience:
- Difficulty tapering. Frequent discomfort and stiffness and flares can be disheartening. Tapering may need to be slowed WAY down. See how to reduce Prednisone slowly on this blog site.
- Hair thinning and loss
- Skin becomes more thin and dry and itchy
- Weakness and fatigue may be more pronounced
This is a tough disease that can wear you down. Even though the thought of dealing with PMR can be overwhelming, you will have good days in addition to bad days, so trying to keep an open mind and optimistic attitude is really crucial to your well-being.
Next week, I will give you "20 Tips to Help Get Through PMR," so stayed tuned, and hopefully, you will check back for inspiration.
Have a beautiful day!