Did the first description of patients with polymyalgia rheumatica take place in Scotland or in Denmark?

Submitted: 29 October 2023
Accepted: 22 December 2023
Published: 22 March 2024
Abstract Views: 575
PDF: 299
Publisher's note
All claims expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of their affiliated organizations, or those of the publisher, the editors and the reviewers. Any product that may be evaluated in this article or claim that may be made by its manufacturer is not guaranteed or endorsed by the publisher.


The first description of polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) is generally attributed to Dr. Bruce. In an 1888 article entitled Senile rheumatic gout, he described five male patients aged from 60 to 74 years whom he had visited at the Strathpeffer spa in Scotland. In 1945, Dr. Holst and Dr. Johansen reported on five female patients examined over several months at the Medical Department of Roskilde County Hospital in Denmark. These patients suffered from hip, upper arms, and neck pain associated with elevated ESR and constitutional manifestations such as low-grade fever or loss of weight. In the same year, Meulengracht, another Danish physician, reported on two patients with shoulder pain and stiffness associated with fever, weight loss, and an increased erythrocyte sedimentation rate. As in the five patients reported by Dr. Holst and Dr. Johansen, a prolonged recovery time was recorded. On reading and comparing these three accounts, we question whether it is correct to attribute the first description of PMR to Dr. Bruce and put forward shifting this accolade to the three Danish physicians.



PlumX Metrics


Download data is not yet available.


Cimmino MA, Zaccaria A. Epidemiology of polymyalgia rheumatica. Clin Exp Rheumatol 2000; 18: S9-11.
Manzo C. Incidence and prevalence of polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR): the importance of the epidemiological context. The Italian case. Med Sci (Basel) 2019; 7: 92. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/medsci7090092
Sharma A, Mohammad AJ, Turesson C. Incidence and prevalence of giant cell arteritis and polymyalgia rheumatica: a systematic literature review. Semin Arthritis Rheum 2020; 50: 1040-8. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.semarthrit.2020.07.005
Sobrero A, Manzo C, Stimamiglio A. The role of the general practitioner and the out-of-hospital public rheumatologist in the diagnosis and follow-up of patients with polymyalgia rheumatica. Reumatismo 2018; 70: 44-50. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4081/reumatismo.2018.1036
Manzo C, Camellino D. Polymyalgia rheumatica: diagnostic and therapeutic issues of an apparently straightforward disease. Recenti Prog Med 2017; 108: 221-31. [Article in Italian].
Bruce W. Senile rheumatic gout. Br Med J 1888; 2: 811-3. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.2.1450.811
Hysa E, Sobrero A, Camellino D, Rumi F, Carrara G, Cutolo M, et al. A seasonal pattern in the onset of polymyalgia rheumatica and giant cell arteritis? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Semin Arthritis Rheum 2020; 50: 1131-9. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.semarthrit.2020.05.023
Holst J, Johansen E. A special type of rheumatic disease. Acta Med Scand 1945; 122: 258-70. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.0954-6820.1945.tb04502.x
Hunder GG. The early history of giant cell arteritis and polymyalgia rheumatica: first descriptions to 1970. Mayo Clin Proc 2006; 81: 1071-83. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4065/81.8.1071
Portioli I. The history of polymyalgia rheumatica/giant cell arteritis. Clin Exp Rheumatol 2000: 18: S1-3.
Manzo C. Messages from the history of polymyalgia rheumatica. Reumatologia 2021; 59: 425-6. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5114/reum.2021.110221
Meulengracht E. Periarthrosis humeroscapularis with prolonged fever, loss of weight and greatly increased blood sedimentation rate. Nord Med Ark 1945; 27: 1560-73.
Porsman VA. Arthritis in old age. Proc II Congr Europ Reum (Barcelona) 1951; 481-7.
Meulengracht E, Schwartz M. The course and prognosis of periarthrosis humeroscapularis with special regard to cases with general symptoms. Acta Med Scand 1952; 143: 350-60. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.0954-6820.1952.tb14270.x
Bagratuni L. A rheumatoid syndrome occurring in the elderly. Ann Rheum Dis 1953; 12: 98-104. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1136/ard.12.2.98
Barber HS. Myalgic syndrome with constitutional effects. Ann Rheum Dis1957; 16: 230-7. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1136/ard.16.2.230
Bird HA, Esselinckx W, Dixon AS, Mowat AG, Wood PH. An evaluation of criteria for polymyalgia rheumatica. Ann Rheum Dis 1979; 38: 434-9. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1136/ard.38.5.434
Dasgupta B, Cimmino MA, Maradit-Kremers H, Schmidt WA, Schirmer M, Salvarani C, et al. 2012 provisional classification criteria for polymyalgia rheumatica: a European League Against Rheumatism/American College of Rheumatology collaborative initiative. Ann Rheum Dis 2012; 71: 484-92. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ymed.2012.09.009
Waaler E. On the occurrence of a factor in human serum activating the specific agglutination of sheep red corpuscles. Acta Pathol Microbiol Scand 1940; 17: 172-88. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1699-0463.1940.tb01475.x
Manzo C, Nizama-Via A, Milchert M, Isetta M, Castagna A, Natale M, et al. Depression and depressive symptoms in patients with polymyalgia rheumatica: discussion points, grey areas and unmet needs emerging from a systematic review of published literature. Reumatologia 2020; 58: 381-9. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5114/reum.2020.102003

How to Cite

Manzo, C., Isetta, M., & Castagna, A. (2024). Did the first description of patients with polymyalgia rheumatica take place in Scotland or in Denmark?. Reumatismo, 76(1). https://doi.org/10.4081/reumatismo.2024.1673