Many rare types of arthritis have different symptoms. Some types can have serious complications if not treated.
For many types of rare arthritis, a person’s symptoms can vary. Although scientists continue to investigate cures, doctors cannot fully treat some rare types. Instead, they aim to manage or reduce a person’s symptoms.
This article outlines several rare types of arthritis, their symptoms, and treatments.
Mixed connective tissue disease (MCTD)
Scientists do not yet know what causes MCTD. A person can develop MCTD at any age.
MCTD can affect almost any of the body’s organs. Symptoms of MCTD vary but can include:
- Raynaud’s phenomenon, where a person’s fingers or toes become cool or numb due to reduced blood flow
- arthritis symptoms
- heart, lung, and skin conditions
- kidney disease
- muscle weakness
- stomach problems
There is currently no cure for MCTD. Doctors aim to control a person’s symptoms with medication and lifestyle changes, such as changing the way they eat.
A healthcare professional can recommend treatments and ways to manage individual symptoms.
People with ReA normally have inflammation that comes and goes in one or more areas including their:
- joints, often in their ankles and knee joints
- urinary tract
These symptoms often develop over a few days. Other symptoms may include:
- weight loss
- diarrhea and abdominal pain
- small mouth ulcers
- small, painless ulcers on the penis
- raised, reddish skin rash bumps
- thickened nails
A person’s ReA symptoms often disappear naturally within a
To treat chronic ReA, doctors prescribe people medication and exercise to manage symptoms.
People with septic arthritis (SA), also called infectious arthritis, have inflammation in their joints due to an infection. The infection can be:
- bacterial, due to bacterial germs
- viral, due to an infectious virus
People with SA
Symptoms of infectious arthritis include:
- intense joint pain
- fever and chills
- swelling and redness around a person’s joint
- being unable to move an affected joint
People usually experience symptoms in only one joint.
Doctors treat SA in the hospital with antibiotics and by draining fluid from the affected joint.
Most people with SA stay in the hospital for about 2 weeks of treatment. However, doctors may discharge some people sooner with a peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) line and intravenous (IV) antibiotics that a visiting nurse can administer at home or in an outpatient facility. A PICC line is a type of catheter that a healthcare professional can place in order to access the large veins in the chest.
Scleroderma is a condition where a person’s body makes too much collagen, the substance that holds the body together. Localized scleroderma mainly affects the skin. However, systemic scleroderma affects various body parts.
There is currently
Scleroderma can have many different symptoms. People with systemic scleroderma often have pain and symptoms in many organs.
They may also have arthritis-type symptoms,
- joint stiffness and pain in various joints
- reduced grip strength
- reduced dexterity, or skill in using their hands
- painful inflammation in the tendons and fluids around their joints
Doctors tailor scleroderma treatment to an individual’s symptoms and affected organs. Scleroderma treatment normally includes medication and therapy to manage a person’s symptoms.
Scientists do not yet know the cause of PR. About half of people with PR develop rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
People with PR may have symptoms in any joint, but it is most common in their fingers, wrists, and knees. Symptoms include:
- redness in or around their joints
PR episodes may last for hours or days or not occur for prolonged periods.
Doctors typically treat PR symptoms with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and disease-modifying antirheumatic medications (DMARDs).
Behçet’s disease (BD) causes long-term or chronic inflammation and swelling in the blood vessels. People with BD have immune systems that
Scientists believe factors that may play a role in the development of BD include a person’s genetics, their immune system, and environmental factors.
BD can affect any part of a person’s body. BD symptoms may vary but often include:
- mouth, skin, or genital sores
- joint pain and swelling in the:
- light sensitivity
- muscle aches
- vision problems
- digestive problems, including pain, diarrhea, and bleeding
- memory loss
- impaired speech, balance, and movement
- eye inflammation
Doctors prescribe medication to reduce BD inflammation or specific symptoms, including:
- corticosteroid creams and gels
- anti-inflammatory medication
- mouth rinses for mouth ulcers
- eye drops
A note about sex and gender
Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.
People in colder climates or with a family history of Raynaud’s phenomenon are
Scientists do not know the cause of the most common type, known as primary Raynaud’s phenomenon.
During an episode of Raynaud’s, people have one or more fingers or toes that:
- turn white or blue
- feel cold or numb
- swell, tingle, or throb as blood flow returns
People with severe Raynaud’s may have sores or tissue damage.
Treatment for Raynaud’s phenomenon may include medication to keep the blood vessels open or surgery to destroy nerves that cause the blood vessels to narrow.
Some types of rare arthritis still have no cure. Scientists are working to discover cures and causes for many types.
For most types of rare arthritis, doctors prescribe treatments that manage a person’s symptoms and improve their quality of life.