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Palindromic rheumatism: Precursor to rheumatoid arthritis?

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Apr 11, 2019.

About a third of the people who have palindromic rheumatism will go on to develop rheumatoid arthritis.

Palindromic rheumatism is characterized by sudden and recurrent attacks of painful swelling of one or more joints. Attacks may last for several days or just a few hours. Between attacks, pain and swelling completely disappear.

Drugs originally designed to combat malaria are often helpful in reducing the frequency and duration of attacks. These drugs also appear to reduce the likelihood that palindromic rheumatism will progress to rheumatoid arthritis.

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