An uncommon disease of older people in which the walls of the arteries in
the scalp over the temples becomes
inflamed. Other arteries in the head and neck may also be affected, as may
be the aorta (the artery that carries oxygenated
blood from the heart) and its main branches. The inflamed vessels become
narrowed, reducing blood flow through them.
|If the temporal artery is inflamed, it is usually
prominent and there is a persistent severe headache and scalp tenderness
in the area of the head shown above.
|A prominent and inflamed temporal artery due to temporal
The cause of temporal amyalgia rheumatica (pain and stiffness in the muscles
of the hips, thighs, shoulders, and neck).
The most common symptom is a severe headache on one or both sides of the
head. The temporal artery (located at the side of the head above the earlobe)
may be prominent and the scalp tender. In about half of the cases, the opthalmic
arteries supplying the eyes are affected, which may cause sudden blindness
if untreated. Other symptoms and signs include fever and poor appetite.
Early reporting of symptoms is essential due to the risk of blindness. The
diagnosis of temporal arteritis is made by blood
tests, including ESR (erythrocyte sedimentation rate), and in some cases
by a biopsy (tissue sample) of the artery.
Treatment with a corticosteroid drug
usually has a rapid effect; otherwise, immunosuppressant
drugs may be given. Temporal arteritis usually clears up completely
within two years.