Although palindromic rheumatism can recur over many years, it doesn't usually cause permanent joint damage. Palindromic rheumatism is characterized by sudden and recurrent attacks of painful swelling of the joints and surrounding tissues. Attacks may last for several days or just a few hours. Between attacks, pain and swelling completely disappear.
Half the people who have palindromic rheumatism eventually develop rheumatoid arthritis, which does cause joint damage.
Drugs originally designed to combat malaria are often helpful in reducing the frequency and duration of attacks. These drugs also appear to reduce the likelihood that palindromic rheumatism will progress to rheumatoid arthritis.
March 26, 2014
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- Firestein GS, et al. Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2013. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Jan. 17, 2014.
- Katz SJ, et al. Palindromic rheumatism: A pre-rheumatoid arthritis state? The Journal of Rheumatology. 2012;39:1912.