Treatment for Temporal Arteritis: A Personal Experience
As my mother's caregiver, I was taking her to an ophthalmologist to manage her glaucoma. She underwent a laser procedure that was successful in controlling the condition. During a routine visit a couple of months later to check on the status of the pressure in her eyes, she mentioned in passing that her head, and particularly, her left temple was extremely sensitive. It was so sensitive that at times it made it hard for her to lay on a pillow to sleep at night.
Her ophthalmologist was immediately concerned about temporal arteritis, also known as giant cell arteritis. He explained that this condition was an inflammation of the arteries, an inflammation that could potentially cause sudden and irreversible blindness, stroke, and so forth. Due to the possibility of such a negative outcome, he immediately prescribed prednisone to begin reducing the inflammation. He also ordered a blood test to see if there were any signs of inflammation in her temporal artery. If there was, my mother would need further testing to determine if she had TA.
The blood test examined her SED rate (also known as erythrocyte sedimentation rate/ESR) which is an indication of the degree of inflammation occurring in the body.
The results of her blood test indicated that there were signs of inflammation but a biopsy would provide more conclusive results by directly examining a section of the temporal artery. Within a week, she had the biopsy which was a quick and nearly painless procedure. Biopsy results indicated that there was evidence of arteritis and therefore, her regimen of prednisone was to continue. Because my mother also has osteoporosis, taking prednisone was a tricky matter as it can damage bones by blocking calcium.
Her regular physician then took over her care in regards to the arteritis. She then had to have periodic blood tests to assure her inflammation was being held in check as the doctor very gradually reduced the prednisone dosage.