Palindromic rheumatism is a rare condition where symptoms like those of rheumatoid arthritis – joint inflammation, pain and swelling – come on suddenly and then disappear just as quickly.
The cause of palindromic rheumatism is unknown, although a possible allergic origin has been suggested.
Palindromic rheumatism is characterized by sudden, multiple and recurring attacks of joint pain and swelling. Each episode may last from several hours to several days. The frequency of attacks varies, from one episode a day to several during a year. Usually two or three joints are involved, but different joints may be involved in different attacks. The soft tissue around the joints may also be affected. After an attack, affected joints usually returns to normal without any permanent joint damage.
The doctor may diagnose this condition after a complete medical history, physical examination and possibly X-rays. Laboratory tests may be ordered to rule out rheumatoid arthritis. No one test can diagnose palindromic rheumatism.
Treatment may include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for acute attacks. Certain disease modifying anti-rheumatic medications (DMARDs) used for RA, such as hydroxychloroquine and sulfasalazine, have been helpful in reducing the frequency and duration of attacks and may reduce the likelihood that palindromic rheumatism will progress to rheumatoid arthritis.
Managing flares of palindromic rheumatism requires balancing activity and rest, eating a nutritious diet, and following the recommended treatment plan. Self-management involves making lifestyle choices and addressing both the physical and emotional effects of arthritis. It encompasses the choices made each day to live well and stay healthy.
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