Test Your Knowledge: Acute Joint Pain in the Emergency Department

 Acute monoarticular and polyarticular joint pain that results from infection, trauma, and autoimmune and inflammatory processes are a major cause of disability that is often preventable with early diagnosis and management. 

Our recent issue Diagnosis and Management of Acute Joint Pain in the Emergency Department presents an overview of the various types of acute joint pain that present to the emergency department, and outlines systematic, evidence-based strategies for diagnosis and treatment. Emerging infectious and reactive causes of arthritis, including Zika, chikungunya, and COVID-19 are reviewed. 

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Here are a few key points:

  • There are 6 broad categories of arthritis (with some overlap): (1) infectious, (2) degenerative, (3) autoimmune, (4) crystal deposition-related, (5) reactive, and (6) traumatic.
  • Although joint pain has traditionally been thought of as either monoarticular or polyarticular, do not eliminate a disease based solely on these binary classifications, as some can present with single or multiple joints.
  • The number of affected joints, their locations, and symmetry of distribution can help identify the cause of the joint pain.
  • There are no disease-modifying treatments for osteoarthritis; symptom relief is the main focus. Intra-articular injections of corticosteroids or hyaluronic acid can be performed in the ED.

Read the full issue and earn 4 CME credits!

Last Updated on January 25, 2023

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