Viral arthritis

  • Definition
    • Viral arthritis is swelling and irritation (inflammation) of a joint caused by a viral infection.

  • Alternative Names
    • Infectious arthritis - viral

  • 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:

      It may also occur after immunization with the rubella vaccine, which is typically given to children.

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

  • Symptoms
  • Exams and Tests
    • A physical examination shows joint inflammation. A blood test 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 health care provider may prescribe pain medicines to relieve discomfort. You may also be prescribed anti-inflammatory medicines.

      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.

  • When to Contact a Medical Professional
    • Call for an appointment with your provider if arthritis symptoms last longer than a few weeks.

  • References
    • Ohl CA, Forster D. Infectious arthritis of native joints. In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 105.

      Vassilopoulos D, Calabrese LH. Rheumatologic aspects of viral infections. In: Firestein GS, Budd RC, Gabriel SE, et al, eds. Kelly's Textbook of Rheumatology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:chap 110.