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Viral arthritis
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Viral arthritis

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Viral arthritis is swelling and irritation (inflammation) of the joints from a viral infection.

Arthritis may be a symptom of many virus-related illnesses. It usually disappears on its own without any lasting effects.

It may occur with:

  • Enterovirus
  • Dengue virus
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
  • Human parvovirus
  • Mumps
  • Rubella
  • Alphaviruses
  • Cytomegalovirus

It may also occur after immunization with the rubella vaccine. This is a common form of childhood joint discomfort.

While many people are infected with these viruses or receive the rubella vaccine, only a few people develop arthritis. No risk factors have been established.

I Would Like to Learn About:

  • Causes

    Arthritis may be a symptom of many virus-related illnesses. It usually disappears on its own without any lasting effects.

    It may occur with:

    • Enterovirus
    • Dengue virus
    • Hepatitis B
    • Hepatitis C
    • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
    • Human parvovirus
    • Mumps
    • Rubella
    • Alphaviruses
    • Cytomegalovirus

    It may also occur after immunization with the rubella vaccine. This is a common form of childhood joint discomfort.

    While many people are infected with these viruses or receive the rubella vaccine, only a few people develop arthritis. No risk factors have been established.

  • Symptoms

    The main symptoms are joint pain and swelling of one or more joints.

  • Exams and Tests

    A physical examination shows joint inflammation. A blood test (serology) for viruses may be performed. In some cases, a small amount of fluid may be removed from the affected joint to determine the cause of the inflammation.

  • Treatment

    Your doctor may prescribe pain medicines to relieve discomfort. You doctor may also prescribe anti-inflammatory medications.

    If joint inflammation is severe, aspiration of fluid from the affected joint may relieve pain.

  • Outlook (Prognosis)

    The outcome is usually good. Most viral arthritis disappears within several days or weeks when the virus-related disease goes away.

  • Possible Complications

    There are usually no complications.

  • When to Contact a Medical Professional

    Call for an appointment with your health care provider if arthritis symptoms last longer than a few weeks.

  • Prevention

    There is no known way to prevent viral arthritis.

Related Information

  ArthritisMumpsRubellaHepatitis B     Osteoarthritis

References

Espinoza LR. Infections of bursae, joints, and bones. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 293.

Ohl CA. Infectious arthritis of native joints. In: Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, eds. Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2009:chap 102.

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Review Date: 11/20/2013  

Reviewed By: Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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