When you have a viral infection, you can experience a temporary form of arthritis. In the United States, viral arthritis is relatively rare thanks to modern vaccines. Symptoms of viral arthritis look a lot like Rheumatoid arthritis, such as joint pain and swelling.

“Most cases of viral arthritis resolve quickly and don’t have long-term effects.”

Your immune system is designed to fight off any viruses. This is how your body fights off the illness. Sometimes viruses can enter your joints.

Your immune system will try to kill the viral particles when they get inside your joints. This will cause swelling and pain in your joints.

You can develop viral arthritis with any virus, but it is more common with certain infections. According to [acceptable source here], viral arthritis is most commonly linked to:

Symptoms of viral arthritis are similar to those of rheumatoid arthritis. The primary symptoms are pain and swelling in one or more of your joints. Symptoms come on suddenly and are the same in adults and children.

  • It is worse in the morning.
  • There is a limited range of motion.
  • symmetrical joint involvement, meaning the same joints are involved on both sides of your body, such as both knees, both shoulders, both wrists, or both hips
  • The muscles are sore.
  • There is a high degree of fever.
  • There is pain in five or more joints.

Other symptoms can vary depending on the virus causing your viral arthritis. Some people might develop a rash similar to the rash seen in rheumatic diseases. People who have an arthritic condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, might see their symptoms increase in severity.

How long does viral arthritis usually last?

The arthritis is usually treated quickly. After the viral infection passes, most symptoms of arthritis will clear up. In rare cases, additional physical therapy is needed.

Most of the symptoms of viral arthritis are common with other illnesses. There are a wide range of symptoms caused by viral infections.

If you have a viral infection and have pain in multiple joints on both sides of your body, your doctor might suspect viral arthritis.

Rheumatology Advisor says your doctor will do tests to confirm a diagnosis. A physical examination can test for swollen joints, and blood tests can look for viruses. You might also have tests such as a rheumatoid factor test and an erythrocyte sedimentation rate to rule out other types of arthritis.

The best way to treat viral arthritis is to treat the viral infection that is causing it. Your treatment will focus on helping you get better. In rare cases, you might have additional treatment to help restore your joint function.

Treatments might include:

  • Pain relieving medications. Your doctor might recommend or prescribe medications to relieve pain and take down the swelling. These could include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or analgesics such as acetaminophen.
  • Ice and heat packs to reduce pain. Applying ice can reduce swelling, and applying heat can reduce stiffness.
  • Fluid aspiration. Your doctor can remove some of the fluid in your joints if your pain is severe.
  • Antiviral medications. Antiviral medications can help your immune system fight the viral infection that is causing viral arthritis.
  • Physical therapy. In most cases, viral arthritis symptoms will resolve quickly. Physical therapy can help if your symptoms linger or if you need assistance regaining joint function.

Eating tips after recovering from viral arthritis

People with viral arthritis recover quickly. It is possible to eat foods that are beneficial for your joints after you have recovered from viral arthritis. This can lower inflammation in your body. Before you change your diet, make sure to talk with your doctor.

Diet tips after viral arthritis include:

  • Limit your sugar intake. Sugar can increase inflammation in your body. Check labels for added sugar and avoid it when you can.
  • Limit saturated fats. Saturated fats include red meats and full fat dairy products. They can trigger inflammation, so it’s best to eat them sparingly.
  • Choose whole grains and dark breads. Foods like white rice, white bread, and many desserts are also sources of sugar. Try to reach for brown rice, whole grain breads, rye breads, and whole wheat pastas.
  • Eat more fish and nuts. Fish, nuts, and flaxseeds are amazing sources of omega-3 fatty acids. This healthy fat source is known to help lower inflammation and joint pain.
  • Add some vitamin D. Vitamin D is found in foods such as eggs, salmon, orange juice, and milk. Studies have shown vitamin D levels to be connected to the risk of arthritis. Your body also naturally produces vitamin D when exposed to sunlight.

The outlook for viral arthritis is positive. In most cases, viral arthritis resolves quickly. No additional treatment is usually needed. When treatment is required, it is often just to manage the pain and swelling.

It is very rare for a viral arthritis to last more than a few weeks.

Living with arthritis pain

It is good to have support when you are dealing with a painful condition. There are some great resources to use. You can check it out.

  • Live Yes! Connect Groups. These support groups from the Arthritis Foundation help you make online connections with other people living with arthritis.
  • Daily Strength. This large online support group for people with rheumatoid arthritis is a great place for connection and support.
  • PainAction. You can use PainAction to find local support groups and other resources for arthritis pain.
  • RheumatoidArthritis.net. You can post on these forums to talk with other people living with arthritis to share stories, tips, and more.

A viral infection can cause a type of arthritis pain and swelling. This type of arthritis used to be more common. In the United States, viral arthritis is rare thanks to vaccines.

It causes symptoms similar to those of Rheumatoid arthritis, such as joint pain and swelling. At least five joints are usually the site of pain. Most viral arthritis causes no lasting symptoms. If there is any pain or inflammation, physical therapy can help.