Treatment of polymyalgia rheumatica and giant cell arteritis. I. Steroid regimens in the first two months.
Thirty nine patients with polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) and 35 with giant cell arteritis (GCA) were treated with high or low dose steroid regimens in a prospective study of the first two months of treatment. Patients with PMR needed 15-20 mg prednisolone initially; 13/20 (65%) relapsed on an initial dose of 10 mg/day. All but two patients with GCA were successfully treated with 40 mg/day prednisolone initially but relapsed on a reduction to 20 mg/day. One patient with GCA receiving 30 mg/day relapsed after four weeks. Six patients with PMR developed GCA during the first two months and required an increased prednisolone dose to control symptoms. The erythrocyte sedimentation rate or C reactive protein did not predict relapse.