Giant Cell Arteritis Treatment in Metro Atlanta

Overview of Giant Cell Arteritis

Giant cell arteritis (GCA), also known as temporal arteritis, is an inflammatory disease affecting the large and medium-sized arteries of the scalp, neck, and arms. It often causes headaches, jaw pain, and vision problems. If left untreated, GCA can lead to serious complications, including blindness and stroke. Early diagnosis and treatment at Arthritis and Rheumatology of Georgia (ARG) are crucial to managing symptoms and preventing complications.

Symptoms of Giant Cell Arteritis

  • Headaches: Severe, persistent headaches, often on one side of the head.
  • Scalp Tenderness: Pain and sensitivity in the scalp, especially when touching the hair or scalp.
  • Jaw Pain: Pain while chewing or talking, known as jaw claudication.
  • Vision Problems: Blurred vision, double vision, or sudden, permanent loss of vision in one eye.
  • Fatigue and Malaise: General feeling of being unwell, along with fatigue and weight loss.
  • Fever: Low-grade fever accompanying other symptoms.

Diagnosis of Giant Cell Arteritis

  • Medical History and Physical Examination: Conducted by a rheumatologist at Arthritis and Rheumatology of Georgia to assess symptoms and rule out other conditions.
  • Blood Tests:
    • Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR): Measures inflammation in the body.
    • C-reactive Protein (CRP): Another marker of inflammation.
  • Imaging Tests:
    • Ultrasound: To visualize inflammation in the temporal arteries.
    • MRI or CT Scan: To detect inflammation in the large arteries.
  • Temporal Artery Biopsy: A small sample of the temporal artery is taken and examined for signs of inflammation and giant cells.

Treatment Options for Giant Cell Arteritis

  • Medications:
    • Corticosteroids: High doses of corticosteroids are the primary treatment to quickly reduce inflammation and prevent complications. Treatment is usually started immediately upon suspicion of GCA.
    • Tocilizumab: An immunosuppressive drug used in combination with corticosteroids to reduce inflammation.
    • Low-dose Aspirin: To reduce the risk of blood clots.
  • Regular Monitoring:
    • Blood Tests: To monitor inflammation levels and response to treatment.
    • Bone Density Tests: Long-term use of corticosteroids can lead to osteoporosis, so bone health is monitored.

Living with Giant Cell Arteritis

  • Medication Management: Adhering to prescribed medications and adjusting doses as directed by a healthcare professional.
  • Monitoring for Complications: Regular check-ups to monitor for potential complications, such as vision problems or cardiovascular issues.
  • Healthy Lifestyle: Maintaining a balanced diet, regular exercise, and avoiding smoking to support overall health.
  • Bone Health: Taking calcium and vitamin D supplements to protect against bone loss from corticosteroid use.

Frequently Asked Questions | Giant Cell Arteritis

What causes giant cell arteritis?
The exact cause of GCA is unknown, but it is believed to involve an abnormal immune response that causes inflammation in the arteries.

Who is at risk for giant cell arteritis?
GCA primarily affects people over the age of 50, with a higher prevalence in women and people of Northern European descent.

Can giant cell arteritis be cured?
There is no cure for GCA, but treatment can effectively manage symptoms and prevent serious complications.

How long does treatment for giant cell arteritis last?
Treatment typically involves long-term use of corticosteroids, with the dosage gradually reduced over time. Some patients may require treatment for several years.

What are the side effects of corticosteroid treatment?
Long-term use of corticosteroids can cause side effects such as weight gain, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, and increased risk of infections.

How can Arthritis and Rheumatology of Georgia help with giant cell arteritis?
At Arthritis and Rheumatology of Georgia, we offer comprehensive care for GCA, including diagnostic tests, personalized treatment plans, and ongoing management to reduce inflammation and prevent complications.

Contact Arthritis and Rheumatology of Georgia

For comprehensive care for giant cell arteritis, schedule an appointment with Arthritis and Rheumatology of Georgia. Call us at 404-255-5956 or use our online contact form. We proudly serve patients in the metro Atlanta area and beyond, providing expert care and personalized treatment plans.

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