Gonococcal Arthritis

Painful arthritis

Gonococcal arthritis is caused due to a sexually transmitted disease – gonorrhea. According to a research study this disease is more prevalent among people below 30 years; but even older people can be affected. Female are at higher risk as compared to males. Usually a single joint is affected resulting in high fever, pain, swelling, etc.

Gonococcal arthritis is a type of infectious arthritis. It is one of the most common types of acute septic arthritis among young people. Gonococcal arthritis is also known as Disseminated Gonococcal Infection (DGI). It is observed in 90-95% of the cases that generally a single joint is affected due to gonococcal arthritis.

Incidence of Gonococcal Arthritis:

This type of arthritis is observed in people who are already infected by gonorrhea. Gonorrhea is a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) which spreads during sexual intercourse. It is observed that the chances to develop this type of arthritis are 4 times higher in women as compared to men. Approximately 200 million people are affected by this disease around the globe. The most number of cases are found in developing countries due to poor health infrastructure and health care.

Cause of Gonococcal Arthritis:

The main causal organism of gonococcal arthritis is gram-negative diplococcus

Neisseria gonorrhoeae

. There are two forms of gonococcal arthritis: 1) which involves skin rashes and multiple joints and 2) this type involves infection of a single joint and the joint fluid is also infected with the bacteria. The single joint gonococcal arthritis follows a generalized propagation of the infection. This dissemination of the infection is related to symptoms like chills, fever, rashes and multiple joint aches. This propagation finally ends when a single joint is completely infected.

Symptoms of Gonococcal Arthritis:

It is observed that the swelling caused due to the bacteria results in severe pain. The skin surrounding the infected joint becomes warm and reddish. In almost 75% of the cases rashes emerge on the legs, arms and torso. Other symptoms are as follows:

  • Migrating joint pain which continues for at least 2-4 days
  • Severe pain in a single joint
  • Pain in lower abdomen
  • Fever
  • Burning sensation or pain during urination
  • Rashes on skin
  • Tendon inflammation results in painful wrist or hands

If the condition is undetected and untreated, then there are chances that the

N. gonorrhoeae

bacteria might migrate to tendons of small joints of wrist, elbow, hand, knee or ankle. It is observed that symptoms related to gonococcal arthritis are sudden, severe and often unbearable.

Treatment for Gonococcal Arthritis:

Gonococcal arthritis treatment involves 2 steps: 1st to treat the infection completely and 2nd is to prevent further infection. To cure the infection various antibiotics are prescribed by the doctor. Previously infection was treated with penicillin but with the latest advancements, various potent antibiotics are being used.

The condition can also be treated by draining out the joint fluid and with the help of a splint, affected joints are immobilized. This process is effective in lessening the pain and swelling. Simultaneously antibiotics are also given to combat the bacterial infection.