Temporal Arteritis

Arthritis & Osteoporosis Center

Rheumatology & Metabolic Bone Disease & Osteoporosis Specialists located in Wyomissing, PA

If you’re over the age of 50 and you suddenly have a continuous, severe headache that’s centered on your temples, you may have a condition called temporal arteritis. The team at Arthritis & Osteoporosis Center in Wyomissing. After speaking with your family physician about the possibility of this condition or have questions about your symptoms, call to book an appointment today.

Temporal Arteritis Q & A

What is temporal arteritis?

Temporal arteritis, also called giant cell arteritis, is a type of vasculitis, which means it causes inflamed and narrowed blood vessels.

This specific type of vasculitis develops in the temporal arteries, which are near your temples and carry blood from your heart to your scalp.

In some cases, temporal arteritis may cause inflammation in other blood vessels, leading to a range of serious complications, including vision loss and stroke. Temporal arteritis also frequently appears together with another condition called polymyalgia rheumatica.

 

What symptoms develop if I have temporal arteritis?

The first symptom you’re likely to experience is a constant, throbbing, and often severe headache that’s centered on one or both temples.

You may also experience:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Scalp tenderness
  • Jaw pain when you chew or talk
  • Vision changes

If you also have polymyalgia rheumatica, your symptoms may include muscle pain and stiffness in your neck, shoulders, upper arms, lower back, hips, and thighs. Polymyalgia rheumatica can also cause a low-grade fever, fatigue, and joint swelling and pain.

 

How is temporal arteritis treated?

High doses of a corticosteroid such as prednisone are the primary treatment for temporal arteritis. Many patients feel better within a few days. 

However, vision changes aren’t likely to improve with corticosteroids, which is why it’s important to get early treatment before your vision is affected.

You may need to keep taking corticosteroids for 1-2 years or longer. Once your symptoms improve, your provider at Arthritis & Osteoporosis Center gradually tapers your dose until they find the lowest dose that keeps the inflammation under control.

As your dose is lowered, you may start to experience headaches again, so this process is continuously adjusted. Your provider may also add another medication such as methotrexate. Tocilizumab has also been approved for the treatment of temporal arteritis in certain circumstances. 

Long-term use of corticosteroids puts you at risk for other problems such as high blood pressure, muscle weakness, and osteoporosis. Your provider at Arthritis & Osteoporosis Center closely monitors your bone density with on-site DEXA imaging.

You may also need treatments such as supplemental calcium and vitamin D or medications to prevent bone loss. Weight-bearing exercise also helps you prevent osteoporosis, so your provider may recommend physical therapy at their advanced clinic. 

As soon as you develop a sudden headache, jaw pain, or vision changes, call Arthritis & Osteoporosis Center to book an appointment for prompt treatment.