GCA only

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I have GCA, but not PMR.  I am curious if there are other forum members who also have GCA exclusively and what their experience with the disease as been.  I've had various side effects from using Prednisone and while I've checked the Pred side effects, I sometimes wonder if the effects are due to the drug, or the disease---random headaches, neck aches, cramps, anxiety attacks, muscle aches, fatigue.

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  • Posted

    most of your symptoms are from GCA. 

    Prednisone can cause puffiness of face and weight gain

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    • Posted

      Is your opinion professional, personal, or both?

      And yes, I know the chipmunk face, redistribution of fat tissue and weight gain are also due to the medication.  Its the headaches and neck aches that are also part of the disease and difficult to sort out.  Started on 40 mg in October and am down to 9 and reducing at 1 mg/month.

      Thanks for your input.

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    • Posted

      Usually there is ovelap in symptoms from autoimmune disorders and thats why it tough to get around these. Headaches and neckaches are caused by GCA, beacause of the medium to large arteries involved. Other issues like fatigue, muscle aches and anxiety are secondary to these. 

      GCA typically presents with recent onset of temporal headache, myalgia, malaise or fever

      The history is usually short and the most common symptoms include:

      Headache: present in more than 85% of patients. It tends to be of recent onset, or represents a change in character from previous headaches. It is often in the temporal or occipital region and is described as severe by most patients. It may be worse at night.

      Scalp tenderness - may be pronounced, making simple tasks such as combing hair, or resting the head on a pillow extremely painful.

      Jaw claudication - particularly prominent when the patient is talking or eating; it is present in more than half of patients with GCA.

      Visual disturbances:

      Due to inflammation of the branches of the ophthalmic artery, leading to ischaemic optic neuritis.

      Occur in around 50% of cases.

      Central retinal artery thrombosis can also occur.

      Visual manifestations include blurred vision, amaurosis fugax, transient or permanent visual loss, or diplopia (due to third, fourth, or sixth cranial nerve palsy).

      These symptoms can occur in the absence of, or before the development of, headache.

      If GCA remains untreated, the second eye may become affected within 1-2 weeks.

      Systemic symptoms (similar to those of PMR) include: anorexia, weight loss, fever, sweats, malaise, fatigue and depression. About 50% of patients with GCA have features of PMR: proximal stiffness, soreness and pain.

      Thoracic aorta and aortic root involvement: occurs in about 15%. This is more common in women and younger patients. Thoracic aneurysms can develop as late as 15 years after the diagnosis and successful treatment of GCA.

      Occasionally, symptoms relate to intermittent or persistent brain ischaemia, due to a subclavian steal syndrome (SSS), narrowing of other aortic arch vessels or intracerebral vascular disease. About 1% of cases present with symptoms of brain stem stroke.

      GCA often involves the aorta and its major branches and may lead to aortic aneurysm/dissection as well as large artery stenoses. Some patients with large-vessel GCA, predominantly upper extremity arterial vasculitis, may have variable clinical presentations and diagnostic delay

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    • Posted

      You've provided me with a good chunk of potential research!

      My rheumotologist feels that the recent left neck & shoulder pain are due to the Pred and not a flare.  In the absence of anything negative in a couple of MRIs, I was sent to a Neurologist who thinks I am experiencing migrains thus I am abstaining from obvious triggers.  I am allergic to sulfites, nitrates, nitrites, MSG etc., which I already avoid conscientiously.  I wonder if it makes sense that since GCA is an autoimmune situation that if i step up my vigilance on avoidance of all possible allergens, that it would reduce the stress on my autoimmune system which might slow down or conquer the GCA?

      I don't wish to bore you to death, but since GCA victims are all in the same boat, whatever common denominators we can gather could be helpfuil.

      Thenk you very much for your time invested in a very informative response.  It is much appreciated.


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