When inflammation occurs in the large blood vessels, the arteries that run beneath the skin on the temporal (temple) areas of the head, the disease is temporal arteritis. Frequency of occurrence increases with aging. It often occurs in association with a problem called polymyalgia rheumatica. Temporal arteritis presents with throbbing headaches. These headaches occur in the area of the involved artery. Most often this is along the temples, but the arteries in the front and back of the neck and in the eye may be involved as well. The pain tends to be throbbing and occurs in rhythm with the pulse. When the arteries in the eye become involved, partial blindness may occur. There is an increased risk of the development of an aneurysm (dilation) of the aorta in the abdomen. An annual examination may be suggested to watch for this possible complication.
Important Points in Treatment
Treatment with corticosteroids is highly effective in controlling the disease, including the prevention of blindness. The doses used are large, and some side effects are possible. Risks must be balanced against benefits. Treatment with steroids may continue for up to a year.
Notify Our Office If ...
- You experience a change in vision associated with headache.
- You experience throbbing headaches, particularly involving the side of the head.
- You experience onset of tenderness in the temples.