What Are the Causes of Migratory Arthritis?

Migratory arthritis is an uncommon condition where arthritis symptoms travel from one joint to another. Symptoms can include pain, swelling, redness, warmth and stiffness. In most cases, the cause of migratory arthritis is an underlying medical condition. Keeping track of any symptoms that are occurring, along with what makes them better and what makes them worse, can help in the diagnostic process.

Infectious Arthritis

Infectious arthritis symptoms are caused by an infection in the synovial lining of the joint. A cut, wound, bite or other injury to an area can allow bacteria to enter the body. The bacteria can then travel through the bloodstream and infect the joints. The infection can continue to spread from joint to joint and symptoms tend to be severe and appear rapidly, states The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. If not treated properly, the infection can damage the cartilage and nearby tendons and ligaments. Treatment includes antibiotics and, in some cases, draining fluid from the affected joints.

Rheumatic Fever

When strep throat is not treated properly, it can cause an inflammatory condition called rheumatic fever. While the exact link between poorly managed strep throat and rheumatic fever is still not well understood, it may be that the infection causes the immune system to overreact and attack healthy tissues. This can lead to inflammation in the joints and, in severe cases, can damage the heart. Rheumatic fever can cause a fever, skin rashes, fatigue, trouble breathing, behavioral changes, uncontrolled movements, and pain and swelling that migrates from one joint to another, explains the Mayo Clinic.

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

Systemic lupus erythematosus, or SLE, is an autoimmune condition in which the body attacks itself and is usually chronic. Symptoms can come on quickly or develop slowly over a period of months. While the exact cause is still under investigation, SLE may be due to inherited genetic disorders or exposure to certain viruses or ultraviolet light, or it can be a side effect of some medications. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, lupus can cause a fever, skin rashes and joint pain, swelling, and redness, which travels from one joint to another.

Gonococcal Arthritis

Gonococcal arthritis is a form of joint inflammation that is caused by a bacterial infection due to contracting gonorrhea. Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease, and the infection can be spread through contact with the mouth, vagina, penis or anus. This condition can cause a fever, skin rashes and migratory arthritis, explains MedlinePlus. Gonorrhea requires medication and if caught in the early stages, it may be controlled before complications such as sterility occur.

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