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Could antibiotics help my joint pain after a sore throat?

Q) I have psoriatic arthritis and I find that if I have a tummy bug or any other complaint, for example a sore throat, that isn't severe enough to see a doctor and clears up by itself, I'm usually left with mild to moderate pain in my joints. If I have a course of antibiotics at a later date for some other problem, for example a dental infection, the antibiotics seem to flush out my joints and leave me pain free – until the next bug comes along! I know I'd have difficulty convincing my GP of this, but it has worked for me several times over the last few years. Could there be any reason for this – I would imagine even the mildest bug attacking the body would head for the most vulnerable areas?
Laraine, Tyne and Wear (Autumn 2010)

A) The notion that there's a link between infection and arthritis has been around for a long time. Indeed, in psoriatic arthritis, it has been proposed that streptococci, which can be a cause of sore throats, and can trigger psoriasis, may also play a part in the onset of the arthritis. And the skin lesions of psoriasis are full of bacteria so that it has been suggested that these somehow trigger the joint complications. However, no convincing link has been demonstrated to date. The deterioration you notice with infections, and the subsequent improvement you notice after treatment, may just be part of the changes we notice with any infection, whatever the cause and however it is treated, if at all.

This answer was provided by Dr Philip Helliwell for the Autumn 2010 edition of our magazine, Arthritis Today, and was correct at the time of publication.

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