Viral arthritis

Definition 
Viral arthritis is inflammation of the joints that results from a viral infection.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors 
Arthritis may be a symptom of many viral illnesses. The duration is usually short, and it usually disappears on its own without any lasting effects. It may be associated with mumps, rubella, human parvovirus, and Hepatitis B. It may also occur after immunization with rubella vaccine. This is a common form of childhood joint discomfort.

Symptoms 

     
  • joint pain and joint swelling of one or more joints

Signs and tests 
A physical examination shows joint inflammation. A serology for viral agents may be performed.

Treatment 
Treatment is usually pain relievers to alleviate discomfort. If joint inflammation is severe, aspiration of fluid from the affected joint may relieve pain. In general, the arthritis is mild.

Expectations (prognosis) 
The outcome is usually good. Most arthritis disappears within several days to weeks with resolution of the viral illness.

Complications 
There are usually no complications.

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

Prevention 
There is no known way to prevent viral arthritis.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 4, 2012
by Amalia K. Gagarina, M.S., R.D.

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