Gonococcal Arthritis

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Gonococcal Arthritis is inflammation of a joint due to a gonorrhea infection.


  • Fever
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Migrating joint pain for 1 to 4 days
  • Pain in the hands or wrists due to tendon inflammation
  • Pain or burning on urination
  • Single joint pain
  • Skin rash

  • Causes:
    Gonococcal arthritis occurs in people who have been infected with gonorrhea. It affects women four times more often than men, and is most common among sexually active adolescent girls. There is also increased risk during menstruation and pregnancy.

    Two forms of arthritis exist -- one with skin rashes and multiple joint involvement, and a second, less common, form in which disseminated gonococcemia leads to infection of a single joint and joint fluid cultures are positive.

    Single joint arthritis follows generalized spread of the gonococcal infection. Dissemination is associated with symptoms of fever, chills, multiple joint aches, and rashes. This episode may end as a single joint becomes infected. The most commonly involved joints are the large joints such as the knee, wrist, and ankle.

    There are two aspects of treating a sexually transmitted disease, especially one as easily spread as gonorrhea. The first aspect is to cure the infected person. The second is to locate, test and treat all sexual contacts of the infected person to prevent further spread of the disease. Mandatory reporting has been instituted and has, until recently, has held the number of cases of gonorrhea at a low level. However, the incidence of gonorrhea is once again rising.

    Beginning about the time of the Vietnam war, the United States saw the appearance of strains of gonorrhea that are resistant to penicillin and tetracycline. These resistant strains have been increasing over the last few years. Because of this, a new standardized treatment regimen has now been recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Instead of the standard penicillin treatment, gonorrhea is now treated by a large number of new and very potent antibiotics. Consult your health care provider to ascertain the best and most up-to-date treatment.

    A follow-up visit 7 days after treatment is important to recheck cultures and confirm the cure of infection.

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