Acute Arthritis

What is Acute Arthritis?

Acute arthritis is an inflammation of the joint that presents very quickly and with serious intensity. It is a general term for an inflammation of the joints that is both severe and short-term. It typically results from an infectious agent such as a virus or bacteria, however, sudden and extreme stress or direct injury to the joint can also be a cause.

Acute arthritis is characterized by sudden, intense pain and swelling in the affected joint, which can be accompanied by stiffness, redness, fever, and weakness. Symptoms generally appear within a few hours following the initial injury or infection and start to dissipate as the body rids itself of whatever caused the joint inflammation. In some cases, it can last for weeks.

Common Causes of Acute Arthritis

Acute arthritis is typically caused by an infectious agent such as a virus or bacteria. Infections that can lead to acute arthritis include:

  • Gonorrhea
  • Hepatitis B
  • Lyme Disease
  • Malaria
  • Mumps
  • Rubella
  • Salmonella
  • Tuberculosis

In some cases, acute arthritis can also be caused by direct trauma to the joint, such as from sports or a car accident, or from extreme or sudden physical or emotional stress.

Risk Factors of Acute Arthritis

Acute arthritis can affect anybody, however there are some factors that make it more likely. The risk factors for developing acute arthritis can include:

  • Age - Infants and the elderly are more susceptible to acute arthritis.
  • Genetics - A person is more likely to develop acute arthritis if other family members have it.
  • Gender - Women are at a higher risk of developing acute arthritis, especially due to physiological factors related to the menstrual cycle or pregnancy.
  • Stress - Chronic stress can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of acute arthritis.

Treatment of Acute Arthritis

Treating acute arthritis starts with identifying and eliminating the underlying cause, whether that is an infection, injury, or physical or emotional stress. Treatment options vary, but may include:

  • Rest and immobilization of the affected joint
  • Anti-inflammatory medication for pain and swelling
  • Antibiotics for infections
  • Corticosteroid injections
  • Physical therapy to increase joint strength
  • Surgery to repair joint damage

The prognosis for acute arthritis depends on the underlying cause and if it can be successfully treated. Some cases resolve quickly and others can be more difficult to manage. Early diagnosis and treatment are key, so it is important to seek medical help immediately if you suspect any joint inflammation.