Although the treatment of patients with polymyalgia rheumatica by corticosteroids given by mouth is effective, it is often accompanied by multiple side effects. Various studies have shown that the steroid related complications are proportional to the cumulative dose of steroids administered. In a prospective study of 16 patients with polymyalgia rheumatica the effects of regular intramuscular injections of methylprednisolone over 12 months were evaluated. Remission of disease was achieved with injections of 120 mg of methylprednisolone every three weeks for 12 weeks. Subsequent disease remission was maintained by monthly injections of methylprednisolone on a reducing schedule of dose. The treatment was efficacious, safe, well tolerated over one year, and showed no suppression of the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis at 12 weeks after initiation of treatment. Such a mode of steroid treatment results in a considerably lower cumulative steroid dose than with conventional doses of prednisolone given by mouth. These results will be further evaluated in a controlled trial using intramuscular injections of methylprednisolone and prednisolone given by mouth for the treatment of polymyalgia rheumatica.
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