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Tuberculous arthriti


Tuberculous arthritis is an infection of the joints caused by tuberculosis.

Causes of Tuberculous arthritis

Approximately 1% of people affected with tuberculosis will develop associated arthritis. The joints most frequently involved are the spine, hips, knees, wrists, and ankles. Most cases involve just one joint.

Tuberculosis involving the spine is often referred to as Pott's disease. The hunchback of Notre Dame had a gibbous deformity (humpback) which is thought to have been caused by tuberculosis.

Tuberculous arthritis can be very destructive. In particular, if the spine is involved, a patient may have numbness, tingling or weakness below the level of the infection. Muscle atrophy and muscle spasms can occur.

Symptoms of Tuberculous arthritis

Common symptoms are a low grade fever, especially at night. Joint swelling with warm and tender joints. A patient will see a decrease in joint mobility. Many patients will see a spinal mass, this can be associated with numbness and tingling.  Sometimes a patient will feel weakness in the legs. Onset is usually slow and may involve only one joint.

Diagnosis of Tuberculous arthritis

Diagnosis begins with your doctor observing some of the symptoms. After doing so he may call for the following test.

Xrays of your joints
Positive tuberculin skin test
Aspiration of fluid in the joint (shows tuberculosis bacteria on a culture or stain and many white blood cells on cell count)
Biopsy of the joint (may show numerous tuberculosis bacteria)

Treatment  of  Tuberculous arthritis

Treatment is aimed at eradicating the infection with anti-tubercular medications. Analgesics and application of heat or cold to the joints may provide symptomatic relief of pain. Surgery may be necessary, especially to drain spinal abscesses or to stabilize the spine. Surgery is rarely needed for infections of other sites.

Prognosis of Tuberculous arthritis

This form of arthritis can be very destructive to the tissues. Control of the infection should prevent further joint involvement. However, joint destruction may take place before the infection is controlled.

Complications  of Tuberculous arthritis

Vertebral collapse resulting in kyphosis
Spinal cord compression
Joint destruction



This web site is intended for your own informational purposes only. No person or entity associated with this web site purports to be engaging in the practice of medicine through this medium. The information you receive is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a physician or other health care professional. If you have an illness or medical problem, contact your health care provider.


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