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Arthritis and Rheumatism

Sarcoid Arthritis

10/03/2000

Question:

Can you tell me what Sarcoid Arthritis is? Is it a type of arthritis or a mild form of sarcoidosis? Any further information or link would be appreciated

Thanks

Answer:

Sarcoidosis is a disease that can affect many organs of the body, including the lungs, the heart, the skin, the muscles, the eyes, the nervous system, and the joints. In Some patients with sarcoidosis only a single organ (usually the lungs) is affected; in other patients with sarcoidosis many organs are affected. In one type of sarcoidosis, called Lofgren`s syndrome, patients have enlargement of some of the lymph nodes in their chest (this is called perihilar lymphadenopathy), a type of red, raised rash, usually over their shins (called erythema nodosum or E nodosum) and painful swelling of their joints (arthritis). Often, this type of sarcoidosis gets better spontaneously, or after a short period of treatment with a corticosteroid medication, such as prednisone. Some patients who have sarcoidosis also have painful swelling around their joints (this is called periarthritis). This tends to last longer. Many of these patients will have small cysts (spaces) in their bones, near the joints, that can be seen on hand x-rays. These patients often benefit from non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen or naproxyn, but occasionally more powerful medications are required. Because arthritis is very common, some patients who have sarcoidosis can also have arthritis that is unrelated to their sarcoidosis. Many general internists are comfortable treating patients who have mild to moderately severe sarcoidosis. If a particular symptom of sarcoidosis becomes more severe or resists treatment, it may be worthwhile to seek a referral to a sub-specialist who is experienced in treatment of the involved organ (for example, a pulmonologist for lung involvement or a rheumatologist for joint involvement).

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Response by:

Fred Finkelman, MD
Director, Division of Immunology
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati