What Is Gonococcal Arthritis? 




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What’s Gonococcal Arthritis? Gonococcal arthritis occurs when gonorrhea affects the joints, causing inflammation and pain. When the bacteria spreads via the blood and into the afflicted joints, symptoms of the disease might start to appear, although some cases are asymptotic. 

Gonococcal Arthritis

Inflammation in joints is only one of the side effects of gonorrhea if not treated. Antibiotic therapy, on the other hand, can swiftly eliminate the illness.

We have a related article for you, you can read Arthritis Symptoms And Causes.

When the related bacteria infect a joint, it causes inflammation, leading to joint pain and, thus, arthritis. In this scenario, the infection is caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae.

In just the USA, the rate of gonorrhea cases is increasing significantly. Per the stats from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the cases grew by almost 18.6 percent in 2017 from the previous year.

Causes of Gonococcal Arthritis? 

Gonorrhea is generally caused by a sexually transmitted infection (STI). However, it can also be diagnosed in a newborn infant if the mother suffers from gonorrhea while giving birth. 

Although gonorrhea is usually linked with symptoms such as genital discharge or painful urination, the STI can extend beyond the vaginal or penile area, rectum, or throat. In certain situations, the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae can even spread throughout the patient’s body, causing disseminated gonococcal infection (DGI). 

The joints are one of the most common places for the pathogens to reside, resulting in a disease termed gonococcal arthritis. 

Moreover, females are seen to be more prone than males to acquire gonococcal arthritis, and this is due to their higher risk of gonorrhea in the first place. 

The testicles are the only location the pathogens can reach in the case of males. Whereas for females, a more significant portion of their upper reproductive tract can be infected.


Because gonorrhea often does not show symptoms, one might be unaware that they have the disease.

Gonococcal arthritis can affect anyone, or more, of the following areas:

  • knees 
  • ankles
  • wrists
  • elbows 
  • head and trunk bones (in rare cases)

The common symptoms of the disease are as follows:

  • Swollen inflamed joints
  • Tender joints, causing pain during movements
  • Limited motion of the joints
  • Skin lesions 
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Painful burning urination

The symptoms that might appear in babies are:

  • Irritation 
  • Difficult feeding
  • Constant crying
  • Impulsive movement of limbs
  • Fever


Aside from swelling and discomfort of joints, gonorrhea, if not treated, could result in several more significant health problems, such as pelvic inflammatory disease, another severe condition that affects the ovaries, uterus lining, ovaries, and fallopian tubes.

Some other complications of 

Gonococcal arthritis include:

  • Infertility problems
  • Higher HIV risk

When suffering from gonorrhea, untreated babies can experience certain other complications as well, such as

  • Skin infections
  • Skin sores
  • Blindness

Comparison With Other Arthritis 

There are specific overlapping symptoms and conditions from gonococcal arthritis and other kinds of arthritis. The main target of all kinds of arthritis infections is joints, usually knees and ankles.

However, a few essential distinctions include:

  • Even though all of the diseases under this category can affect humans under any age group, gonococcal arthritis is more prevalent in young adults, i.e., younger than 40. In contrast, people older than this age group are more likely to develop other forms of arthritis, such as those resulting from streptococci and staphylococci or viral and fungal infections.
  • The inflamed tendon sheath is seen in these cases of gonorrhea, while other kinds of arthritis do not cause it. Moreover, fever is an uncommon symptom in other kinds of septic arthritis.


Gonococcal arthritis is diagnosed by eliminating other contributing factors and verifying the prevalence of gonorrhea. Physicians will conduct a physical diagnosis and inquire about the symptoms and signs seen in the patient.

They might also conduct a series of tests to rule out gonorrhea and rule out any consequences or tissue damage.

The following tests might be performed for this purpose:

  • Inflammation tests
  • White blood cell count
  • Imaging tests
  • Culture Test or Gram Stain test for the following:
  1. Joint fluid
  2. Urine sample
  3. Swab samples from genital areas or throat
  • Blood culture test

Once gonorrhea has been confirmed in a patient, the doctor would recommend starting treatments through antibiotics.


Gonococcal arthritis is treated by first targeting gonorrhea. Antibiotics are commonly used to treat gonorrhea. Ceftriaxone is the favored first antibiotic in most cases, while certain specialists might also recommend other antibiotics like cephalosporin, azithromycin, or doxycycline.

The whole treatment course for those with problems like gonococcal arthritis might include a round of antibiotics spanning over a week or two.

Since gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection, doctors may advise the patient to inform any sexual partners that they have been in contact over the previous two months and have them tested for gonorrhea. This might aid in limiting the disease’s spread.


The prevention of gonorrhea is an integral part of the prevention of gonococcal arthritis. The sole method for avoiding sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhea is to refrain from engaging in sexual activities.

However, according to the CDC, sexually active individuals could take specific actions to reduce their risks of contracting gonorrhea. For instance, they can reduce the risk of being infected through condoms or other barrier techniques, as well as receiving frequent STI screenings. 

Furthermore, if one is in a long-term sexual relationship with just one partner who doesn’t have gonorrhea is one of these methods as well.

Another post that will interest you is about What Arthritis Medications Cause Hair Loss?

Being tested for gonorrhea and other STIs regularly might assist in stopping the spread of the infection. This is particularly crucial for sexually active individuals and the ones who have several sexual partners. 

An annual screening and tests for gonorrhea, as well as other STIs, can assist in preventing the transmission of the disease as well.

When To Get Tested

  • If a person has several sexual partners, it’s essential to be examined frequently.
  • Keeping up to date on one’s sexual health might assist a person in obtaining a speedy diagnosis or avoiding becoming exposed to the infection.

The CDC advises that the following people be tested for gonorrhea at least once a year:

  • Sexually active people
  • Females younger than 25 years of age who are sexually active and many partners

If a person is diagnosed with gonorrhea, they must inform all of their sexual partners since they must be tested and perhaps treated. It is also essential to avoid sexual contact until one has finished their treatment and received confirmation from your doctor that the infection has been gone.

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