Viral arthritis is having arthritis due to a pathogenic viral infection. This type of arthritis involves swelling or inflammation of joints in our body due to infection caused by certain viruses. Viral arthritis normally self-heals itself over time and does not require much of professional medical attention. However, in rare cases, symptoms can prolong and lead to serious conditions. It is difficult to diagnostically differentiate between regular inflammatory arthritis and viral arthritis most times.
Causes of Viral arthritis:
Many different types of viruses can cause this disease. Only some viruses have a specific attraction towards our joints, and viral arthritis is the manifestation due to the infection by those viruses. A list of viruses that cause viral arthritis are listed below:
- Dengue virus
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
- Human parvovirus B19
- Rubella virus
Viral arthritis can also occur when administering immunization with the rubella vaccine. This is quite common in children who experience joint pains. Out of the many people that receive these viruses in the form of vaccines, only a few of them get viral arthritis.
Viral arthritis gives rise to symptoms that are flu-like and systemic symptoms like a viral exanthem and lymphadenopathy are common. Studying patient history and their physical diagnosis confirms on these symptoms.
Symptoms of viral arthritis include:
- Joint pains (knee, shoulder, ankle, hip, wrist, etc.) and stiffness.
- Localized warmth and redness in and around the painful joint
- Chills and shivers
- Skin rashes
The main medications that are involved in this condition are anti-inflammatory drugs and pain killers.
Generally speaking, viral arthritis is a mild disorder and requires nothing more than symptomatic treatment of the class of analgesics and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Rarely, low-dose prednisone may be prescribed if other drugs fail to provide relief.
Severe joint pains or septic arthritis calls for aspiration of fluid from the affected joint or surgical drainage. This disease does not impose any dietary restrictions. Gentle exercise and mobilization are usually initiated after several days of rest, after the onset of the arthritis pain, to treat the stiffness.
Patients who are already suffering from rheumatoid arthritis will have high risk of viral infection because of relative immunosuppression when compared to other healthy individuals. This should be kept in mind when treating such patients, to understand any flare up of symptoms, irresponsive ness to treatment, etc.
Viral arthritis patients undergo treatment in any hospital or clinic outpatient setting. Treatment by physiotherapists also helps counter the painful stiffness and other joint flexibility issues. Rheumatologists, as well as general physicians, are qualified enough to treat patients suffering from viral arthritis.
During treating viral arthritis patients, it is important to reassure them and explain to them that this disease is a self-limiting disease and the pain will reduce and subside eventually with time. Serious complications such as permanent joint dysfunction or disability is not a problem in this disease.