PMR Alternative Therapies

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Is there any one out there who is using completely alternative therapies and not taking steroids. Would love to hear from you.I am finding it really hard to find out what others are trying as all seem to be on steroids.I am 57 and have had PMR for a year now and have been working with various alternative people.just wondered if any one had found a quick fix

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  • Posted

    Hello Kiwi.

    I was diagnosed with PMR just over 9 day's ago and have been started on Steroid's, I must admit I don't like the idea of steroid's but since being on them I am not in all that pain, I can walk up the stairs instead of double stepping, I can get out of the chair and put pressure on my upper arms instead of crying out in pain, and I can get up in the Morning out of bed not like before when I was in so much pain even trying to move when I woke up, and it took me ages just to walk. some Morning I am still stiff though.

    I have had some good days in the last nine days and other days I have had stiffness and in some pain especially down the back of legs groin area at the back, I do feel tired though but the Doctor said that can happen with PMR, I am a bit anaemic too.

    It would be good to know if there is an alternative, I am on a learning curve with PMR, I wondered if a massage would be good for this? by a Therapist, I am just glad that I am not in that terrible pain anymore, and if I have to take Steriod's then I am resigned to that.

    I saw the Doctor Thursday and he said it might be 2 Year's that I will be on Steroid's and he said he would like me to see a Rheumatologist.

    Its early days for me and I have found this site so helpful, Mrs O, EileenH & Lizzie and so many others have been a great help to me and kindly replied to me, when I was in so much pain and feeling absoluty awful with pain.

    Mrs O I have got my blue card now thank you for telling me about it.


    • Posted

      hi ladies, I have just joined this site. I am a qualified Bowen myofascial

      therapist, a very gentle form of remedial therapy which has been successful over a course in treating PMR.  Massage, unusually, is not recommended for this condition.  There are no quick fixes either but stay well hydrated, gentle movement and the Bowen technique have all proved successful.

  • Posted


    There are two or three people who post fairly regularly here who I know are trying to get through their PMR without steroids and I'm sure they will reply re their experience with alternative therapies when they see your post.

    I have recently been in contact with someone who says she and her sister recovered from PMR by taking Evening Oil of Primrose and following the Hay Diet (no not what they feed horses!) which mainly believes in separating carbs from protein and adding different types of fruit to each meal to change the acidic environment of the body to an alkaline one.

    I think it's probably more a case of trial - what might suit one person might not suit another!

    I'm sure someone else will join in soon with some more advice for you.


    So glad to hear you are still feeling improvement. One more little tip: I have always kept a diary of symptoms, appointments, blood test results and steroid doses on my computer - I have found it helpful to be able to produce it when either the rheumatologist or GP have queried anything.

    Best wishes to you both.


  • Posted

    [b:c70d6aaa73]Annie[/b:c70d6aaa73]. I do the same as Mrs O and keep a record on Excel. Its helped me figure out why I have good days and bad days sometimes. I have a 'notes' section (I am so boring sometimes!) where I put things like 'day in France' 'visit to the inlaws' and 'day out with Grandchild' and it wasn't long before I twigged that if I had a busy day I would probably suffer for it the next. Helps me plan. Really pleased to hear that the steroids are starting to help you get back to some sort of normality. As time goes on most of the aches will go away for most of the time (well they did in my case). It was instant relief, then a few days/weeks of intermittent pain then it became pretty good. I haven't tried anything alternative. I did have several sessions of acupuncture when I had dreadful eczema three or four years ago but I'm a bit nervous of rocking the boat with the PMR as its pretty stable just now, so have decided to stick with the regime I'm on which is gradually reducing the steroids, having regular blood tests and looking after myself.

    [b:c70d6aaa73]Kiwi [/b:c70d6aaa73] As Mrs O has said, I'm sure you will get good information on this site from those who are battling PMR without steroids. I wish you luck but I don't think any of us have found the secret to the 'quick fix' yet. Keep well and keep in touch.

    Lizzie Ellen

  • Posted

    Hi Kiwi!

    In the 4 (or so) years before I was diagnosed with PMR I coped reasonably well without any drug treatment but I was never totally pain-free as no painkillers worked effectively and what I was able to do was quite limited. Life without a car was almost impossible and made both the pain and the tiredness far, far worse (it was being temporarily stopped from driving that made me realise how much I had adapted my lifestyle). I just didn't do things if I couldn't use the car and had to choose between exercise at the gym (mainly aqua aerobics, Pilates and yoga) or doing things in the house (er - the gym usually won as it helped get me mobile!).

    In addition, every few months I would have a few Bowen technique treatments in combination with a couple of treatments from an osteopath (not a chiropractor, she ONLY did manipulation and ultrasound treatments of very inflamed spots) which kept me reasonably mobile and reduced the pain. I have seen chiropractors in the past who insisted I needed weekly treatments on an ongoing basis. The intermittent Bowen and osteopathy wasn't cheap but the chiropractic option would have cost about 5 times as much and they insisted on dietary supplements which were also expensive. I'm sure they would say that I didn't persist with it long enough to get any benefit but a friend had spent hundreds of pounds over a few years and her problem never seemed to get significantly better. Bowen technique stems from Australia originally and you'll find info about it and practitioners if you google it. It is basically \"manipulation\" of soft tissues (muscle and their attachments) and is now being adopted by many traditionally trained physiotherapists. The main objection people have against osteopathy doesn't apply - it's pretty difficult to damage anything with Bowen as the technique is very gentle massaging movements of the muscles to realign them in their correct positions. The results can be quite dramatic and you can feel pretty wiped out for a day or so as the muscles settle down again but I did get a lot of relief longer term.

    Pilates and Iyengah yoga were also good for relief of the stiffness - especially done after an aqua class - and the effects lasted well between weekly classes. I was a member of a gym that offered all these classes included in the membership price - the cost if I had had to pay for them all individually would have been astronomical. I no longer live there and haven't found an all-inclusive option here in Italy and since we are now retired there is no way I can afford the indiviual way as those sort of classes are not only quite novel here but also seriously expensive when you do find them! The winter was fine - I find skiing is the perfect movement to get the shoulder and hip muscles moving but can anyone come up with a summer option? Walking would be nice but is still an exhausting exercise for me.

    But I don't think there is any \"quick fix\" - other than steroids which don't cure, just make it livable with by reducing the inflammation.

    good luck and keep us up to date with anything you do find,


    • Posted

      Hi EileenH, I've just joined this site.  I'm a private yoga teacher (Iyengar) and Bowen myofascial therapist in London and so pleased to hear your

      positive experiences.  I'm interested in helping treat this condition and have had success so just spreading the word. Best wishes, Lisbeth

  • Posted

    Hi Kiwi

    I started PMR in November and steroids in January, but, like you, didn't want to and looked into alternatives first. I made a private appointment with a homeopathic doctor who is also an experienced GP. After making the appointment, I emailed him describing my condition etc and he kindly emailed me back saying that in his experience as an experienced homeopath, there is no alternative to steroids for PMR. He did himself out of business by saying this to me and I decided to go with the steroids especially as my GP (and this homeopath) described the dangers of possibly getting Giant Cell Arteritis as well if not on steroids. Also, you can get joint complications if you are immobilised for a length of time because of the PMR, whereas the steroids allow you to keep moving normally, which is clearly better in the long-term for your joints and muscles.

    All the best


  • Posted

    Great advice from you Beev - I am your typical example of someone who developed Giant Cell Arteritis because PMR wasn't diagnosed for over a year......until I got GCA! I was totally immobilised in bed for 3 months of that year, as you have also stated \"putting my joints at risk\".


  • Posted

    Hello fellow Kiwi

    I have had PMR for 8 months and as I already had osteopenia (thinning bones) I felt really determined to find an alternative to steroids to help me out of my distress.

    I started with cranial osteopathy, then herbalism, homeopathy, then Chinese medicine (acupuncture and herbs) but have been getting gradually worse all the time.

    All this time I was relying on ibuprofen (just one 200 mg tablet every four hours) and a cocodamol at night and in the day if necessary. That meant I could get out of bed and kept me going, just about, until recently when my muscles got so weak I could hardly get out of a chair.

    I also have massage once or twice a week, take high dose, very good quality omega 3 fish oils, vitamin D, evening primrose oil, glucosamine and tumeric. I don't know if any of these help. However, I do know that research shows that omega 3 fish oils do help reduce inflammation in general, that's the one thing I would suggest taking.

    My rheumatologist has been very patient with me while I have been trying out these alternative options and rejecting his steroids. He says I am resistant but in a \"nice\" way.

    Two days ago in total desperation I accepted a slow-release low-dose steroid injection, which should last for 3 months. Since then I have not had to take any painkillers but my stiffness has not got any better yet - still hoping. My consultant assured me that I will get no side effects with this one injection, but what I will do after that wears off I don't know. My CRP level had gone up to 150, and he was not keen for me to go on without medication.

    I realise my story so far does not sound very optimistic for alternative methods, but I did hear on the Radio 4 'You and Yours' debate about alternative medicine, a man phone in and say that Chinese medicine had made his PMR better. (I tried to contact him via the program but they did not reply, I guess they get overwhelmed with listener emails.)

    Do keep in touch, wishing you all the best, Enid

    • Posted

      Hi I am a private yoga teacher and Bowen myofascial therapist in London.  Have had success with PMR but there are no quick fixes and it does take a while.  Happy to discuss more if you're interested.  Best wishes, Lisbeth Russell
  • Posted

    This is the post that I hoped not to be writing and I hope I do not discourage the others, like me, who would like to avoid steroids.

    I stopped taking Pred. under supervision and at my request 0n 17th Jan. and there was an immediate lessening of the side effects. No more panic attacks, nausea, mood swings ( bad ones ) and improved sleeping.

    The pain increased but was bearable, I thought. This went on for a couple of months.

    There were three days when there did seem to be an improvement but then the symptoms returned with a vengeance and on 24th April I could bear it no longer and went back to 15mgs. Saw different GP on third day as normal man stranded somewhere exotic. She wants me to see rheumatologist just so I can be in the system in case of future necessity. This has never been suggested before as my usual GP was100% certain of diagnosis as am I in my non-medically qualified way. Typical pain, raised ESR and very rapid response to steroids.

    This has again proved to be the case and I am virtually pain free and walk upstairs like a grown-up. Might revert, though, having read Eileen's thoughts on load bearing exercise!

    For a couple of days I felt almost no reaction to the steroids apart from dramatic pain relief but now the old symptoms are returning. A couple of hours after taking the tablets I feel light-headed and weak. By early PM things improve and I swear that it is connected with having eaten ( toast mid morning, wholemeal bread and three different fruits for lunch. ) Dr. says he cannot account for that as my blood sugars are normal ( well, they are when he tests ).

    The symptoms seem milder on the days when I do something physically demanding early in the day, maybe getting rid of some of the surplus cortisol ?? I did post on this topic a week or so ago but there were no responses so I guess this idea did not ring bells anywhere. It was this perpetually jazzed up feeling that made me keen to stop the steroids and reluctant to resume but then the pain was so bad that that alone was making me feel ill so the choice seemed to be ill and painful or ill and relatively comfortable.

    I am making a big effort to remember to breathe properly, not to clench my teeth and keep my shoulders relaxed. Any other suggestions welcomed. I have this old fashioned convent educated idea that it is disgraceful to lose ones self control and have been advised to be kinder to myself but it's easier said than done.

    Lizzie Ellen. Why did I not think of Excel.? I shall re-do my diary that I am going to keep this time round. Shuffling through all my considerable collection of blue cards to answer the new GP's questions decided me to improve my record keeping. I shall, of course, carry my blue card as usual.

    I have been allowed to organise my own tapering regime and the experiences of posters to this forum will be a great source. I am wondering how long to continue on 15. In 1999 I was started on 30 for 4 weeks, 25 for 2, 15 for 10 days 12.5 for 2 weeks then 10, at which point pain returned so back to 12 and then 13 for 4 weeks after which I reduced without problems over several months and then more pain at 4.5 and took 6 months to reduce to 3. More stiffness at 1.75 ( had a pill chopper ). Back to 3 then 27 weeks to my final dose. Looking at this schedule after all this time I realise how slow it was. The figures for my second bout were not so patient and I think I have suffered for it.

    Sorry this is a bit long winded.

    Good night and sleep well all. Betty

  • Posted


    I know this is going to sound awful, but men do react and respond differently to women with pmr. No, there is no scientific viewpoint on it, but the more men I meet the more I see a distinct difference.

    Whilst you are trying everything else and are getting less and less mobile, muscle wastage kicks in.

    I was unable to walk for three months or even put the foot to the ground, whilst I recovered from a 'snapped tendon' operation. Luckily it worked, but my right leg muscles took a long time to get back into operation.

    Then GCA struck another story.

    Has your Rheumatologist referred you to the physio department for exercises?.

    Visit and under Useful Information read The Benefits of Exercise.


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