Early inflammatory arthritis

Inflammatory arthritis can be acute and self-limiting - like after a virus such as Parvovirus B19 - or chronic and potentially progressive and damaging to joints. It's really important to notify your doctor if your arthritis pains continue and for your doctor to recognise whether it's an inflammatory arthritis. If missed and not treated, then inflammatory arthritis can cause permanent damage to joints and permanent disability. The good news is that inflammatory arthritis can be successfully treated but you need to see a rheumatologist promptly to get a diagnosis and receive advice about treatments. Early inflammatory arthritis is so important to pick up it is the focus of a national UK audit. See the link below at rheumatology.org


The commonest inflammatory arthritis types which persist and are not just simple post-viral arthritis illnesses are: psoriatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, small joint inflammatory osteoarthritis and arthritis linked to spondyloarthritis (where inflammation in the spine is also a feature);
In the hands, the presence of stiffness of joints, swelling around the knuckles and pain if the knuckles are squeezed suggests an inflammatory arthritis (the three 'Ss');

A review by a Rheumatologist, a set of immunology blood tests and a scan of affected joints (ultrasound or MRI) is key to making a diagnosis (X-Rays are often normal in early arthritis)


A national audit on the provision of health services to ensure early appropriate care for people suspected of having an early inflammatory arthritis: