Giant Cell Arteritis and Polymyalgia Rheumatica | Overview


What is giant cell arteritis?

Arteritis (say: “ar-ter-eye-tiss”) is a condition in which the arteries become inflamed (swell). Arteries are blood vessels that carry blood from the heart to the rest of the body.

Giant cell arteritis (GCA) can occur in the arteries of the arms, upper body and neck. However, it usually affects the arteries that are above and in front of the ears on both sides of the head (the temples). This type of GCA is also sometimes called the temporal arteritis or cranial arteritis.

What is polymyalgia rheumatica?

Polymyalgia rheumatica (say: “pol-lee-my-al-jah roo-matt-tick-ah”) is a condition in which the muscles in your neck, shoulders, hips and thighs become inflamed. This causes stiffness and aching in these areas. Polymyalgia rheumatica is also called PMR.

How are GCA and PMR related?

Between 10% and 20% of people who have PMR also have GCA, and about half of people who have GCA also have PMR. They can have these diseases at the same time, or GCA can develop after PMR.


Management of Giant Cell Arteritis and Polymyalgia Rheumatica by S Meskimen, M.S.N, TD Cook, M.S.N., and RL Blake, M.D. (American Family Physician April 01, 2000,

Written by editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 03/14
Created: 04/00