Over 50 years of age and experiencing vision problems? You could be suffering from temporal arthritis.
Arthritis attacks people of all ages. Even children can get it. But the temporal type of arthritis is different. It is seen in people over the age of 50, and in women more than in men.
Also known as Temporal Arteritis or Giant Cell Arteritis, this disorder causes swelling of temporal arteries, which are located in the temples. Hence the name. Other affected areas could include the arms and neck.
When temporal arteries swell, there is a significant reduction in blood flow in these arteries, which leads to damage.
Nobody knows what causes the disease. But, it is generally seen in people who suffer from other diseases that restrict blood flow, like polymyalgia rheumatica.
In fact, more than 15% of people suffering from polymyalgia rheumatica develop temporal arteritis and more than 50% of people who suffer from temporal arteritis will develop polymyalgia rheumatica.
The disease has a slow and almost stealthy beginning. Patients experience feelings of general fatigue, low grade fever and weight loss. Vague symptoms such as these make it difficult for patients to identify the problem.
Typical symptoms to look out for are:
Although no one knows what causes temporal arthritis, early identification is the best way to arrest the slow but unyielding progress of the disease. Delay in treatment may lead to loss of vision. Further, it could damage more blood vessels in other areas.
In case your doctor suspects the condition, they are likely to order a blood test as well as a biopsy of the inflamed artery. They might also refer you to an ophthalmologist to check for eye damage.
Additionally, they will also check for polymyalgia rheumatica because of the close connection it has to temporal arteritis.
During treatment, the doctor’s main objective is to restrict tissue damage caused by limited blood flow.
Most patients recover completely, although they may require long term treatment; sometimes, as long as 1-4 years. Fortunately, temporal arthritis rarely recurs after treatment.
Little is known about preventing the condition altogether.