Come and Go Palindromic Arthritis is Not Rheumatoid Arthritis


Palindromic arthritis is a rare condition often misdiagnosed as rheumatoid arthritis, either because your primary care provider is unfamiliar with this disease or because it actually turns into rheumatoid in about a third of those correctly diagnosed with this condition.

If your doctor diagnoses you a form of arthritis, you should get a second opinion and do your own research to ensure your treatment is for the correct disorder. To help you get started, read on and educate yourself about this rare form of arthritis to determine if you may need to meet with a medical professional.


Palindromic, taken from the Greek word meaning to "come and come again," is the perfect descriptor for this form of arthritis because it does exactly that-comes and goes. This spontaneous disorder, whose cause is unknown, may plague you for a few hours, a couple of days or two weeks and can affect one or multiple joints. Once it disappears, so do the symptoms, which only return with the reappearing arthritis.

When the pain returns, it can occur in the same joint or a different one and presents with localized pain, described by some sufferers as sharp and burning. The signature arthritic symptoms of tenderness, swelling and redness are also present and tend to become worse with movement. The intensity of the pain felt with palindromic arthritis tends to increase gradually and is usually not responsive to Tylenol or ibuprofen, though this depends on your specific case and tolerance for pain.

Unlike other forms of arthritis, palindromic arthritis usually comes on with no morning stiffness, has no association to illness, sexually transmitted infections or Lyme disease. If you have no other health problems, blood results should be normal in between occurrences and non-indicative of any underlying condition.

The fact that this type of arthritis comes and goes also means it does not interfere with your daily life, leaving you well and able to work, exercise and enjoy other hobbies that people with non-palindromic arthritis typically have to give up or experience with pain.

Diagnosing Criteria

The rarity and misdiagnoses of this condition lead two scientists to establish five key criteria that doctors can use to identify this disorder. Through their research, they found that if you have palindromic arthritis, a primary care provider could make an accurate diagnosis if:

  • He or she witnesses at least one attack
  • All other forms of arthritis are ruled out with 100 percent certainty
  • Three or more joints experience pain, either simultaneously or at different times
  • The occurrences come and go for at least six months
  • Radiology tests are completely negative

Additionally, if you have a blood test while experiencing an attack, certain inflammatory and rheumatoid factors, as well as anti-CCP may be present, the latter of which are more likely to appear if you have a serious form of this disorder or are susceptible to developing rheumatoid arthritis. 


Currently, medical professionals still do not have much information about this disorder to even classify it, as it may or may not be a form of rheumatoid arthritis. This condition is also mildly or non-responsive to many of the standard arthritis treatments, which makes sense since joint damage is absent. If you have this condition, you should try all types of pain management, particularly natural remedies, and avoid the use of steroids since there is no occurrence of joint damage with this disorder.

In the event you experience joint pain and suspect you may have palindromic arthritis, talk to your primary care provider. If you receive a diagnosis for this condition, are female, experience red marks on both hands during an attack or get a blood test that is positive for rheumatoid factor during a flare up, you are at a higher risk for developing rheumatoid arthritis and should monitor your condition for any changes. Otherwise, if you can get through the painful episodes, enjoy your life as usual.

Physical Locations Which Often Experience Intermittent Arthritis

Knee Arthritis - If you are experiencing intermittent, come and go, pain and swelling in your knees, consult a doctor to get an accurate diagnosis.

Hip Arthritis - If you encounter inconsistent discomfort and pain in the hip, you should consult a physician to get an accurate diagnosis.

Spinal Arthritis - Come and go pain and stiffness in the neck and back should not be ignored, it might be arthritis and not just a temporary strain.

Hand Arthritis - While not paralyzing, the intermittent pain and swelling can cause problems with grip and movement.

Foot Arthritis - intermittent symptoms warn you to stay away from the injured area as to avoid causing further damage.

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