By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Ask Dr. Gott 7/4
Try alternative and traditional therapies for PMR
Placeholder Image
    DEAR DR. GOTT: I have a lot of health problems. One is polymyalgia, which makes me stiff and in a lot of pain. I've taken prednisone, but the side effects were terrible, so I stopped that drug.
    I have sleep apnea. During my sleep test, they discovered my restless legs syndrome. I now take Mirapex and Clonazepam, and that is controlled.
    Would massage therapy be helpful in reducing my pain and stiffness? Also, I'd like to know whether there's a support group I could attend in my area with people who have these same symptoms.
    DEAR READER: Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) is an autoimmune disorder that causes stiffness and pain in the muscles of the hips, neck and shoulders. The disorder occurs most often in women and in the elderly.
    If you are willing to try prednisone again, I suggest you first discuss the dosage you were on with your primary-care physician or rheumatologist. Cutting the dosage might help.
    Massage therapy will certainly make you feel better and is worth a try. I suggest you find a therapist who has worked with other PMR or fibromylagia sufferers. You may wish to experiment with acupuncture. Be sure to find a certified practitoner who practices in a clean office and uses sterilized needles. If you don't want to be stuck with pins, you may prefer acupressure. This is similar to acupuncture but doesn't involve needles; rather, the therapist uses his or her hands to apply pressure to certain areas of the body. This practice is believed to relieve pain, increase circulation and more.
    Relief may be found with acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen sodium (Aleve), which reduce swelling and pain. Unfortunately, most people do not respond well to this therapy and need prescription pain relievers, such as Lyrica, and steroids, such as prednisone.
    Include garlic, nuts, grapes, curry, cherries, omega 3s and green tea in your diet. All these foods have been purported to relieve some forms of arthritis pain.
    Create an exercise plan. You might even ask your physician for an out-patient referral to a local physical-therapy group at your nearest hospital or sports-medicine center. With professional help, you will not overdo it, but will be able to incorporate what works best for you. If you have access to a swimming pool, fitness center or YMCA in your area, water therapy is excellent for people with arthritis pain. Water aerobics provides gentle range-of-motion exercise and relief for several days following therapy. You might consider a whirlpool mat in the bottom of your bath tub, where you can do limited exercise right at home.
    Barring unknown medical problems, the above suggestions should help relieve your pain and suffering.
    Because I am not familiar with the community in which you live, I recommend you contact the Arthritis Foundation at (800) 283-7800 or visit to find the nearest support group in your area.
    To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report "Managing Chronic Pain."
Sign up for the Herald's free e-newsletter