What Is Migratory Arthritis?

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  • Written By: Jennifer Mackin
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 23 October 2019
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Migratory arthritis is a type of arthritis that causes symptoms to move throughout the body rather than remain constant in one area. People who suffer from the regular form of this inflammatory disease usually have pain in both wrists or knees at the same time when a flare-up occurs. With migratory arthritis, only one wrist or knee will become inflamed. As the inflammation in that joint subsides, it can travel up the same side of the body to inflame another joint there. This type of arthritis is usually caused by an underlying medical condition.

In a healthy person, inflammation due to an injury or virus will normally trigger the body’s immune system to attack the foreign agent causing the swelling. Once the threat to the body is gone, the inflammation typically subsides. People who suffer from migratory arthritis often have an auto-immune condition that keeps the immune system from functioning correctly. This makes it difficult for the body to fight off the source of the inflammation, therefore damaging tissue and causing the pain, stiffness, and swelling of arthritis.


It is important to have the underlying cause of migratory arthritis diagnosed, so it can be treated as well. Treating the auto-immune disease can help reduce the number of arthritic flare-ups. Whipple disease, Lyme disease, Lupus, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), and Hepatitis B or C are all potential causes of this condition. These diseases can be contracted by anyone no matter their age, race, or gender, including children.

Managing arthritis pain can be done several ways. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are usually prescribed by a doctor to help combat the inflammation causing the pain. Some physicians might also recommend a good diet plan and daily exercise regime. Supplements high in omega-3, chondroitin, and glucosamine can strengthen the body and help keep the flare-ups at bay. These things might not cure the arthritis, but can help reduce the number of painful days and how many episodes a person has.

Arthritis sufferers should keep a detailed journal about their pain. Things that should be jotted down are the pattern of the pain, how often the person has a flare-up, how long the episodes last, and how long the person goes between them. Any other symptoms should also be written down, even if it does not seem like it is associated with the pain. By keeping such a written record, a patient can help the doctor diagnose the migratory arthritis faster, so a pain management plan can be formulated for relief.


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Post 3

@MrsPramm - In some ways there's not much point in complaining about arthritis because there often isn't much that can be done about it, except for standard anti-inflammatory pills or painkillers.

I think migratory arthritis is quite easy to spot, since the area affected swells up, so people generally won't ignore it or think it is just aches and pains.

Post 2

@umbra21 - I had the same problem with my mother. She has had arthritis of the knees for a long time and kept blaming herself for being overweight instead of thinking that the pain might be from a medical condition.

Now she has medication that helps to make her feel better, but she could have been on that sooner if she had taken better care of herself.

It sounds like the potential danger of ignoring migratory arthritis is even greater than normal arthritis, since it can be a symptom of some bigger illness.

I'm going to let her know about this, just in case it's another kind of pain that she's been ignoring because she thinks it's her own fault or something silly like that.

Post 1

I need to get my mother to start keeping a journal of her arthritis pain, because it does seem to work like this, where it isn't always in the same place.

I don't know if it's because of an underlying condition, or if it's just because she tends to not complain as much as she probably should. But keeping a journal seems like a good idea either way.

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