What is palindromic rheumatism?

Palindromic rheumatism is a rare type of inflammatory arthritis that usually appears in people between the ages of 20 and 50.

It causes episodes of joint pain and swelling. The painful swelling caused by these episodes disappears between flare-ups.

This type of rheumatism does not cause lasting damage to the joints or surrounding tissue. This makes it different from other types of arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA). RA can cause permanent damage to joints.

The cause of palindromic rheumatism is unknown. And there are currently no known risk factors for developing the condition.

Palindromic rheumatism causes episodes of swelling and joint pain. These episodes are recurring, come and go suddenly, and tend to form a pattern.

Patterns of palindromic rheumatism may vary in the following ways and are different from person to person:

  • Duration: Episodes may last a few hours to a few days.
  • Frequency: Episodes may occur daily or several times a year.
  • Location: Episodes may affect two or three joints at a time and can impact the soft tissue near the joints.

The cause of palindromic rheumatism is unknown.

Palindromic rheumatism cannot be diagnosed by one test. Instead, your doctor may use a combination of tests and personal information to come up with a diagnosis. These may include:

  • a physical examination
  • your complete medical history
  • X-rays
  • laboratory tests to rule out other types of arthritis, such as RA

Your doctor may suggest taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These drugs can help reduce inflammation during episodes.

An antimalarial, such as hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil), can also help decrease the frequency and the length of attacks. They may also reduce the probability of your palindromic rheumatism developing into RA.

You may also consider the following steps to manage your palindromic rheumatism on your own:

  • Strike a healthy balance between activity and rest.
  • Adopt a nutritious diet.
  • Commit to a treatment plan.

Palindromic rheumatism can cause pain and discomfort but it does not cause lasting damage to the joints. But, palindromic rheumatism can lead to RA. It is estimated that approximately half of people with palindromic rheumatism develop RA.

RA causes your immune system to attack your body’s tissues. The inflammation RA causes can damage your joints and lead to bone erosion and joint deformity. It can also damage other parts of the body and leave you physically disabled if untreated.

Getting your palindromic rheumatism properly diagnosed is an important step to managing your symptoms and preventing further complications.