Temporal arteritis/Giant cell arteritis is inflammation and damage to the blood vessels that supply blood to the head. If the inflammation affects the arteries in your neck, upper body and arms, it is called giant cell arteritis. Temporal, giant cell, and cranial arteritis occur when one or more arteries become inflamed, swollen, and tender. Temporal arteritis commonly occurs in the arteries around the temples (temporal arteries). These vessels branch off from the carotid artery in the neck. However, the condition can occur in medium-to-large arteries in other places in the body. The cause of the condition is unknown. It is believed to be due in part to a faulty immune response. The disorder has been linked to severe infections and the use of high doses of antibiotics. The problem may develop with or following another inflammatory disorder known as polymyalgia rheumatica. Giant cell arteritis almost always occurs in people over age 50. It is rare in people of African descent. The condition may run in families. Some common symptoms of this problem are throbbing headache on one side of the head or the back of the head and tenderness when touching the scalp. Most people make a full recovery, but treatment may be needed for 1 to 2 years or longer. The condition may return at a later date. Damage to other blood vessels in the body such as aneurysms (ballooning of the blood vessels) may occur. This damage can lead to a stroke in the future.
« Back to Glossary Index