What is Palindromic Rheumatism?

Symptoms and treatment of Palindromic Rheumatism at Orthopedic Specialists.

There are many types of arthritis that plague the population. However, one of the strangest has to be palindromic rheumatism. Other names for this rare condition include palindromic rheumatoid arthritis, palindromic arthritis, or palindromic inflammatory arthritis. This form of inflammatory arthritis is characterized by short periods of joint pain and inflammation flare-ups. However, outside of the ‘arthritis attacks,’ joints feel completely normal and do not experience any permanent damage.

While palindromic rheumatism may target any joint(s), fingers, wrists, and knees are most common. Flare-ups range in frequency and length and vary with each individual. Some flare-ups last only a couple of hours, but some might last days. Some only have a flare-up a few times a year while other might experience them several times a week. Regardless of how long or often the flare-ups happen, though, this condition is still different than other arthritis conditions like RA, or rheumatoid arthritis.

Some studies suggest that palindromic arthritis is a pre-rheumatoid arthritis stage for some, but not all. In fact, only approximately 13% of patients develop rheumatoid arthritis later in life. While rheumatoid arthritis is the most common development after palindromic rheumatism, it is not the only. Some people with this condition are also at a higher risk of developing lupus and/or other systemic disorders instead.

Palindromic Inflammatory Arthritis vs Rheumatoid Arthritis

While the two conditions share similar symptoms whilst active, there are several differences between palindromic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

  1. Chronicity: RA is a chronic disease whereas palindromic rheumatism is an acute condition with chronic recurrences.
  2. Demographics: While rheumatoid arthritis affects women more often than men, palindromic inflammatory arthritis can be found equally in both men and women.
  3. Location: Palindromic rheumatism flare-ups only affect 1-2 joints, which vary with each flare. Rheumatoid arthritis affects multiple joints consistently.
  4. Effects: Where joint erosion might be present in those with rheumatoid arthritis, palindromic arthritis does not permanently affect the joints.

Symptoms of Palindromic Rheumatoid Arthritis

As stated, palindromic rheumatism attacks come on suddenly and unexpectedly. There are no warning symptoms or triggers prior to the attack. During the arthritis attack, however, symptoms can include:

  • Painful, stiff joints and surrounding tendons
  • Visibly swollen affected area
  • Tender, hot, and/or redness around inflammation
  • Potential fever/systemic symptoms

After the flare-up passes, some people experience fatigue and tiredness. Otherwise, there are no symptoms or pain outside of the attack.

Palindromic Arthritis Treatment

Palindromic rheumatism attacks are difficult to anticipate, and therefore can be difficult to treat. However, one benefit of palindromic arthritis is that, due to the acute nature of the condition, it can be treated more conservatively than other diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Most often, patients treat acute flare-ups with rest and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Maintaining a healthy, non-inflammatory diet can also be a tool to manage the frequency of attacks. In more serious cases, some anti-rheumatic medications (DMARDs) used for rheumatoid arthritis, such as hydroxychloroquine and sulfasalazine, may be prescribed. If you seek treatment from a doctor, it is better to go during a flare-up, as any symptoms go away outside of them.

If you or someone you love suffers from arthritis in the Louisville, Kentucky-area, board-certified sports medicine physician and orthopedic surgeon Dr. Stacie Grossfeld at Orthopaedic Specialists PLLC can help. Orthopaedic Specialists PLLC is accepting new patients, and same day appointments are available. For additional information or to schedule an appointment, please contact Orthopaedic Specialists PLLC today at 502-212-2663.