Diagnosis and Management of Acute Joint Pain in the Emergency Department | Points & Pearls
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Diagnosis and Management of Acute Joint Pain in the Emergency Department

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  • 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. (See Table 2.)
  • 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.
  • Pregnant and menstruating women and patients with a complement deficiency are most at risk for gonococcal arthritis. Antibiotic recommendations for gonococcal arthritis were updated by the CDC in 2020.
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Publication Information
Authors

Rachel Sullivan, MD

Peer Reviewed By

Jared Ham, MD; John Kiel, DO, MPH, CAQSM

Publication Date

January 1, 2022

CME Expiration Date

February 1, 2025

Pub Med ID: 34919366

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CME Information

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