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Diagnostic Criteria for Polymyalgia Rheumatica (PMR)

There is no universally agreed upon or thoroughly validated set of criteria for the diagnosis of PMR. In the absence of any pathognomonic test, we use the following three criteria for the clinical diagnosis of PMR(1,2):

  1. Age 50 years or older at onset

  2. Bilateral aching and morning stiffness (lasting 30 minutes or more) persisting for at least one month, and involving at least two of the following three areas: neck or torso, shoulders or proximal regions of the arms, and hips or proximal aspects of the thighs

  3. ESR (Westergren) elevated to 40 mm/h or more

Some authors add a prompt response of symptoms to corticosteroids as an additional criterion. On the other hand, the presence of another disease to explain the findings excludes the diagnosis.



Criteria Bird/Wood (3)

Three or more of the following, or at least one of the following plus positive results on temporal artery biopsy:

  1. Bilateral shoulder pain and/or stiffness

  2. Less than two weeks from onset of symptoms to maximal symptoms

  3. ESR greater than 40 mm per hour

  4. Morning stiffness lasting longer than one hour

  5. Patient older than 65 years

  6. Depression and/or weight loss

  7. Bilateral upper arm tenderness


Criteria Jones and Hazleman (4)

All of the following:

  1. Shoulder and pelvic girdle muscle pain without weakness

  2. Morning stiffness

  3. Symptom duration of more than two months unless treated

  4. ESR greater than 30 mm per hour or C-reactive protein level greater than 6 mg per L

  5. No rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory arthritis or malignant neoplasm

  6. No objective signs of muscle disease

  7. Prompt and dramatic response to systemic corticosteroid therapy



ESR = erythrocyte sedimentation rate.




Related Criteria

Classification Criteria for the Diagnosis of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)

Criteria for the Classification of Systemic Sclerosis (Scleroderma)

ACR Criteria for the Classification of Polyarteritis Nodosa (PAN)

ACR Criteria for the Classification of Churg-Strauss Syndrome (CSS)

ACR Criteria for the Classification of Giant-Cell Arteritis

ACR Criteria for the Classification of Hypersensitivity Vasculitis

Revised International Classification Criteria for Sjögren's Syndrome (SS)

1990 Criteria of American College of Rheumatology for the Classification of Takayasu Arteritis

Classification Criteria for Osteoarthritis

Diagnostic Criteria for Relapsing Polychondritis

Criteria for the Classification of Wegener's Granulomatosis (WG)

Diagnostic Criteria for Autoimmune Hepatitis (AIH)

Diagnostic Criteria for Kawasaki Disease

Names and definitions of vasculitis adopted by the Chapel Hill Consensus Conference

Diagnostic Criteria for Mixed Connective Tissue Disease (MCTD)

Criteria for the Classification of the Antiphospholipid Syndrome (APS)



  1. Brooks RC, McGee SR. Diagnostic dilemmas in polymyalgia rheumatica. Arch Intern Med. 1997 Jan 27;157(2):162-8. [Medline]

  2. Hunder, GG. Giant cell arteritis and polymyalgia rheumatica. In: Textbook of Rheumatology, 5th ed, Kelly, WN, Harris, ED, Ruddy, S, Sledge CB (Eds), WB Saunders, Philadelphia 1996.

  3. Bird HA, Esselinckx W, Dixon AS, Mowat AG, Wood PH. An evaluation of criteria for polymyalgia rheumatica. Ann Rheum Dis 1979;38:434-9. [Medline]

  4. Jones JG, Hazleman BL. Prognosis and management of polymyalgia rheumatica. Ann Rheum Dis 1981;40:1-5. [Medline]

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Created: Apr 28, 2008
Last Modified: 10/24/2010

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