What is viral arthritis?

Updated: Nov 12, 2019
  • Author: Rabea Ahmed Khouqeer, MD, FRCPC, FAAAAI; Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD  more...
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Viral arthritis is inflammation of the joints from a viral infection. Approximately 1% of all cases of acute arthritis are thought to have a viral etiology. Infection from a broad range of viruses can result in arthralgias and arthritis. In some cases the specific virus involved can be identified on the basis of the clinical features of systemic infection, but in many cases serologic testing is necessary for diagnosis, guided by clinical and epidemiologic data. [1] See Etiology, Presentation, and Workup.

In general, viral arthritis is mild and requires only symptomatic treatment with analgesics or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (or, occasionally, low-dose prednisone). In some cases, antiviral treatment is available for the underlying systemic disease. See Treatment.

For patient education resources, see the Arthritis Health Center.

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