Five Rare Forms of Arthritis. 

 March 7, 2024

By  Linda Rook

left knee inflamed and painful.


There are over 100 different types of arthritis, Many of the rare types of arthritis have different symptoms, and some can have serious complications if not treated. The symptoms can vary from person to person.

Research however do not fully understand how some of these rare types can be fully treated, in some of the rare types they can instead aim to manage or reduce the symptoms. 

I shall explore five rare types of arthritis, their symptoms, and treatments.

Mixed Connective Tissue Disease.

The first one is called Mixed connective tissue disease or MCTD. It was first found in the 1970s and is a combination of symptoms from three types of arthritis, which where systemic lupus erythematosus SLE, scleroderma and polymyositis.


In MCTD, the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues, leading to inflammation and damage. The symptoms can vary widely and may affect different organs and systems in the body. Some of the common parts of the body that MCTD can attack could include:

  • Raynaud’s phenomenon.
  • arthritis symptoms.
  • heart, lung, and skin conditions.
  • kidney disease.
  • Fatigue.
  • muscle weakness.
  • stomach problems.
  • Pain in the sacroiliac joint.

    other symptoms could be from mild to severe and include:

    1.    Joint Pain and Arthritis - joint pain and inflammation, like symptoms seen in lupus.

    2.    Muscle Weakness - and inflammation, resembling polymyositis.

    3.    Skin changes - such as skin thickening and tightness, are the common symptoms and can be like scleroderma.

    4.    Raynaud's Phenomenon - This condition is where your blood vessels in the fingers and toes tighten with the cold or stress, causing colour changes and discomfort.

    5.    Fever and Fatigue - people may experience fatigue, fever, and a general feeling of being unwell.

    6.    Organ Involvement: MCTD can affect various organs, including the lungs, heart, and kidneys.

    7.    Antibodies: People that have MCTD often have a specific antibody called anti-U1 RNP (ribonucleoprotein).


    The treatment can be a combination of blood tests for specific antibodies.

    Medications - to suppress the immune system such as corticosteroids or disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs).

    Regular monitoring - you may need to see a rheumatologist and other specialists.

    If you suspect you may have MCTD or are experiencing any symptoms consistent with an autoimmune disorder, it is crucial to see your doctor for a proper evaluation and diagnosis.

    Reactive Arthritis.

    The second one is called "reactive" it is called this as the arthritis develops as a reaction to an infection. The condition is relatively rare and is more common in young adults.


    The symptoms are mainly inflammation that comes and goes in the following areas:

    •     joints, often in the ankles and knee.

    •     eyes.

    •     urinary tract.

    Other symptoms may include:

    •     fatigue and fever.

    •     weight loss.

    •     diarrhoea and abdominal pain.

    •     small mouth ulcers or painless ulcers on the penis.

    •     raised, reddish skin rash bumps.

    •     thickened nails.



    The treatment could be a medical history, and laboratory tests. Treatment aims to manage the symptoms and the underlying infection if present.

    Medication will be prescribed such as Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s), or antibiotics may be prescribed to target the triggering infection.

    Septic Arthritis

    Septic arthritis (SA), also called ‘infectious arthritis,’ is the third rare type of arthritis. SA is an inflammation in the joints which is due to infection. The infection can be:

    •     bacterial, fungal, or infectious virus.


    •     The infection such as bacteria, viruses, or fungi enters the joint space, either through the bloodstream from a nearby infection.

    •     Septic arthritis can affect any joint, but it most commonly involves large joints such as the knee, hip, shoulder, and elbow.

    •     You may often experiences severe joint pain, swelling, redness, and limited range of motion and is usually warm to the touch. You could also have a fever or chills.

    You could be at a high risk of developing septic arthritis, if you have a pre-existing joint condition (such as rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis), artificial joint implants, recent joint surgery, intravenous drug use, and conditions that compromise the immune system.



    When you are diagnosed with septic arthritis you may have to go to hospital where they can give you antibiotics and drain fluid from the affected joint.  Most people that have SA may stay in the hospital for about 2 weeks.

    However, doctors may discharge some people sooner with a catheter line and intravenous (IV) antibiotics that a visiting nurse can administer at home or in an outpatient facility.

    With the possible severity of septic arthritis, anyone who is experiencing symptoms of joint infection should seek immediate medical attention.  Early diagnosis can minimise joint damage and improve overall outcome.

    Behçet’s Disease.

    Number six Behçet’s disease (BD) or often known as Behcet’s syndrome is a rare and complex autoimmune disorder that causes long-term or chronic inflammation and swelling in the blood vessels, throughout the body.

    The high risk of developing Behcet’s disease could include genetics, immune system, and environmental factors.


    The symptoms may vary but often include:

    •     Skin lesions that may include acne-like lesions and erythema nodosum (red and painful skin nodules.)

    •     Recurrent mouth ulcers (aphthous ulcers).

    •     Genital ulcers, which are similar in appearance to oral ulcers.

    •     less severe joint pain and swelling in the:

    o     knees.

    o     wrists.

    o     elbows.

    o     ankles.

    •     you may also have a headache.

    •     light sensitivity.

    •     fatigue.

    •     muscle aches.

    Arthritic Wrist.

    In severe cases the disease can involve blood vessels leading to inflammation called vasculitis and this can cause blood clots, aneurysms, or other vascular complications.

    Other symptoms could be digestive problems, including pain, and bleeding. The gastrointestinal tract may become inflamed causing abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and other digestive symptoms.

    Eye Check Optometry.

    •     stroke.

    •     memory loss.

    •     impaired speech, balance, and movement.

    •     eye inflammation called uveitis, leading to pain redness and blurred vision. 


    Your doctor will prescribe medication to reduce the inflammation including:

    •     corticosteroid creams and gels.

    •     anti-inflammatory medication.

    •     mouth rinses for mouth ulcers.

    •     eye drops.

    A weekly box of medication.

    Raynaud's Phenomenon.

    The last one number seven is Raynaud's phenomenon, often called Raynaud's.  It is a condition that affects blood flow to certain parts of the body, usually the fingers and toes. It is mainly in episodes of reduced blood flow, leading to colour changes in the skin (typically white or blue) and sensations of numbness or tingling. These episodes are triggered by exposure to cold temperatures or emotional stress, and they can be quite uncomfortable.

    People are at high risk if they live in cold climates or have a family history. It is also common in females and those under the age of 30.

    Red and cold hands


    During an episode, the symptoms can include:

    1.    The affected areas, such as fingers or toes, turn white or blue due to reduced blood flow. When blood flow returns, the skin colour becomes red.

    2.    The fingers or toes will feel cold and numb, as well as swelling, tingling, and throbbing whilst the blood flow returns to normal.

    3.    The episodes are often triggered by exposure to cold weather, air conditioning, or handling cold objects.

    4.    Emotional stress or anxiety can also trigger Raynaud's episodes.


    The treatment for Raynaud's phenomenon focuses on managing the symptoms and preventing complications.

    The treatments could include.

    •     staying warm in cold weather, using hand warmers, and managing stress.

    •     In more severe cases medications that keep the blood vessels open may be prescribed.


    Researchers are working to try and cure the causes of some rare types of arthritis but to date, they have no cure. For most of the rare types, doctors can only prescribe the treatments and manage the symptoms to improve your quality of life.

    Understanding and recognizing the varied forms of arthritis is crucial for accurate diagnosis and effective management. While these rare types may present unique challenges, progress in medical research and treatment options continue to offer hope for improved outcomes. Increased awareness, early diagnosis and a joint approach between patients and healthcare providers are vital in navigating the complexities of these less common but impactful arthritis conditions.

    Each type of arthritis has its own set of symptoms, causes, and treatment approaches. If you suspect you have arthritis or have been diagnosed with a specific type, it is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate management.

    I hope this article has helped you. Please subscribe to my website, and I will keep you updated on new blogs. Also, if you need to know anything about arthritis, please go to my contact page and leave a message, and I will get back to you.

    In the meantime, if this post is informative, I’d be very grateful if you’d help your friends or family if they have a similar condition to tell them. So please share it on Twitter or Facebook or send them an email.

    Also check out my FREE PDF for more information on rare forms of arthritis.

    I am not a medical professional, and this blog is for information only. If you have any worries, you should consult your doctor.

    I hope this blog has helped.

    More Information. 



    Linda Rook

    Linda is now retired and has suffered from Osteoarthritis for about 40+ years.  She struggled with her weight until she found the correct one that also helped with her arthritic pain.  Linda was in terrible pain until the physician thought her right hip needed replacement. 

    Now Linda has an artificial right hip, which has left her with the left leg shorter than the right.  Therefore, her spine is now wonky, and has arthritis of the lower back, also it seems to be going all over the body, her pain is now in the knees, elbow, wrist, fingers and both hips.

    Linda now spends her days writing information to help others with the same conditions, so they do not suffer like Linda.

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