Viral arthritis causes inflammation and swelling in one or more joints. Viral infections cause this condition. Symptoms can include achy and painful joints and can last until the viral infection clears. Treatment typically includes nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS).
Viral arthritis is when you have pain, inflammation and swelling in one or more joints due to a viral infection. Joints typically become painful and swollen quickly, often over a few hours or days. Viral arthritis is also called post-viral arthritis.
Anyone can get viral arthritis. This condition can occur when you have a viral infection. Adults are more likely than children to get viral arthritis.
Researchers don’t know exactly how many people get viral arthritis each year. Some researchers estimate that about 1% of arthritis symptoms that occur suddenly — known as acute-onset arthritis — are due to viruses.
The symptoms of viral arthritis vary depending on the type of viral infection you have. Symptoms can include:
Viral arthritis occurs when you have a viral illness. You may develop this condition if you’re infected with:
A healthcare provider does a physical examination. They may recommend a blood test to confirm viral arthritis.
The blood test checks for certain antibodies in your blood. Antibodies show that your immune system is fighting a virus that might be causing arthritis symptoms.
Your healthcare provider may prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce inflammation and pain. If you have hepatitis B, hepatitis C or HIV, your provider may treat the underlying infection with antiviral medications.
Follow your provider’s instructions for managing pain and swelling. If your provider prescribed antiviral drugs, take all medications as directed.
Most people with viral arthritis feel better in a few weeks. Typically, once the infection clears, you won’t have ongoing pain or swelling in your joints.
You can reduce your risk of viral arthritis by protecting yourself from viral infections. You should:
You might be at risk for viral arthritis if you:
Viral arthritis isn’t contagious. But many of the viruses that cause viral arthritis are contagious.
The outlook for viral arthritis is good. The condition is curable — it usually resolves when the viral infection ends.
Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions for how to manage pain and swelling. Tell your healthcare provider if you have new or worsening symptoms.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Viral arthritis occurs when certain viral infections cause pain, inflammation and swelling in your joints. This condition typically happens quickly, causing symptoms in a few hours or days. Healthcare providers treat viral arthritis with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and, occasionally, with antiviral medications.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 08/09/2022.
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