Viral arthritis is a term that is a bit deceiving, as no form of arthritis derives directly from any virus and the two do not always exist at the same time. However, the two diseases, on occasion, do have a relationship that transpires by one of three various means. These invasive methods act to trigger a genetic marker or progress the already developing arthritis, whether or not you currently have symptoms.
A variety of viruses can weaken your immune system and your body enough that your arthritis becomes active or worsens. Some viruses cause arthritic symptoms, such as joint pain and stiffness, though these typically disappear with the virus. In some instances, the symptoms stay and you develop arthritis but it is uncertain as to whether the virus caused the arthritis or if it simply triggered the previously dormant gene.
Among the viruses most likely to activate your arthritic gene or cause related symptoms are:
Some other viruses may also cause you to feel arthritic symptoms, such as herpes or the mumps, but many, like the flu virus, do not lead to viral arthritis.
To reiterate, viral arthritis occurs when a virus initiates symptoms of a rheumatic nature through one of three mechanisms. Additionally, factors such as race, gender, health of your immune system, medical history, age and genetics, all contribute to the severity of your symptoms, as well as any long-term consequences.
The first type of mechanism a virus may use to cause an infection that could result in arthritis is immune complex formation. Although a complex process, the concept is generally simple to understand. When you get an infection, your body sends out an army of good guys, known as antibodies, to fight off the disease causing foreigner, or antigen. Sometimes, these antigens band together and create a mass, which then finds its way into a joint and proceeds to cause arthritic symptoms.
Direct invasion takes place when a virus directly, as opposed to unintentionally, invades a joint, thus causing an infection in and around the area. Since the nature of this attack focuses on the joint, though the virus does not isolate itself to this area, the invasion is often persistent and damaging to the infected joint.
The final type of viral arthritis deals with latent viruses and immune dysregulation. A latent virus is one you previously had, like chicken pox, but your body does not kill the infection. Instead, the virus becomes inactive within your body and may become active again at a later time, as in the case of shingles. A latent virus can cause tissue damage, which could eventually affect your joints, and may travel through your nerves, leading to nerve damage or intense pain.
In some instances, a latent virus may cause immune system dysregulation, a condition in which an imbalance exists. Normally, your immune system fights off infection and when the invader is no longer a threat, the pre-existing balance returns.
In the case of immune system dysregulation, your body is constantly fighting, even if no infection is present. This results in a weak immune system and possible damage to your body since your immune system is attacking itself, both of which can trigger the arthritis gene or cause the disease to progress.
If you acquire a virus and have any of the risk factors that make you susceptible to developing viral arthritis, visit your primary care provider so you can monitor this condition. The sooner you treat any illness, the lower your odds for developing any long lasting or permanent damage. Arthritis, viral or not, is painful and if you can minimize the symptoms, take advantage of the opportunity.
Locations Which Commonly Experience Viral-Type Arthritis
Back Arthritis - Symptoms include stiffness in the morning or after physical activity, plus difficulty bending, or walking.
Hip Arthritis - symptoms include swelling, severe pain, warmth and stiffness in the hip but similar to osteoarthritis, the pain might be in the low back, thigh and groin.
Hand Arthritis - can change your life as simple tasks like buttoning a shirt, opening a can or holding a pen become difficult,.
Ankle Arthritis - the smooth cartilage covering the ends of bones becomes worn, resulting in inflammation, swelling, and pain in the joint.
Foot Arthritis - One symptom is the partial or complete inability to move the affected foot during a flare up, as the swelling and pain make motion difficult.