Arthritis (Gr. belonging to the joints, from a joint), inflammation of the joints, of which there are three kinds, traumatic arthritis, rheumatic arthritis, and gouty inflammation of the joints. For the two latter varieties, see Gout, and Rheumatism. Traumatic arthritis is a frequent complication arising from wounds or bruises, contusions, and surgical operations in or near the articulations. Acute inflammation of the articulation sometimes occurs also, without external cause, from the absorption of pus or morbid matter within the system. Women suffering from recent childbirth, or persons afflicted with phlebitis, blennorrhagia, or purulent infection, are liable to suffer from arthritis. Blows, falls, sprains, violent distortion of a joint, fractures, and wounds made by sharp instruments, may all produce acute inflammation of the joints. All the parts of the joint may be involved, or some of the external or internal tissues only; for the intensity of the inflammation is much greater when the capsule of the joint is lacerated and admits the air. During the first day or two the case may seem very simple and without danger to the patient; but often on the third or the fourth day, or even later, the symptoms become more severe, and the pain excessive.
Traumatic arthritis is sometimes so severe as to derange the general health profoundly, causing delirium and convulsions; the skin is burning hot, the tongue is red, bile is vomited, and the patient suffers much from bodily pain and mental anxiety. Suppuration is the usual termination of this kind of inflammation. When traumatic arthritis is superficial, it is easily cured; but when deeply seated and admitting air into the joint, it is a serious disease. The proper treatment consists of cloths and compresses steeped in cold water, and placed around the inflamed parts; rest for the whole body, and particularly for the implicated limb; cooling diet, with appropriate sedatives and other medicines. Cupping and leeching are sometimes useful; and where suppuration has commenced, it is commonly more prudent to allow it to form its own opening for evacuation.