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Plant Thorn Arthritis : Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Diagnosis, Prevention

What is Plant Thorn Arthritis?

Plant thorn arthritis is a rare type of arthritis in which a plant thorn punctures a joint leading to inflammation. It can occur in people who come in contact with the thorns while gardening. The joint coming in contact with the thorn gets affected.

Plant Thorn Arthritis : Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Plants that can lead to plant thorn arthritis are:

  • Berry bushes
  • Palm tree thorn(1)
  • Bramble thorn
  • Yucca
  • Bougainvillea
  • Cacti
  • Blackthorn shrubs
  • Mesquite trees
  • Pyracantha
  • Black locust thorn(2)
  • Plum tree thorn

The joints that mostly get affected with plant thorn arthritis are finger joints, ankle joints, and knee joints.

Symptoms of Plant Thorn Arthritis

Plant thorn arthritis is a monoarthritis.(1) It affects only one joint that comes in contact with the thorn.

The symptoms of plant thorn arthritis are similar to that of other types of inflammation, which include:

  • Pain
  • Warmth
  • Swelling of joints
  • Reddish skin discoloration
  • Limited range of motion
  • Tenderness
  • Stiffness

How is Plant Thorn Arthritis Diagnosed?

The diagnosis of plant thorn arthritis begins with the doctor examining the joint and taking the medical history. An ultrasound scan is ordered to view the thorn fragments in the joint. A blood test is also done to confirm joint inflammation.

Diagnosing plant thorn arthritis is difficult due to the size of the thorn being minuscule and not being detected easily in imaging studies.

A biopsy of the synovial fluid is also done. Synovial fluid is the fluid around the joint that allows the smooth movement of the joint.

Sometimes surgery is needed to detect the fragments and come to a final diagnosis.

How is Plant Thorn Arthritis Treated?

The treatment of plant thorn arthritis is started with antibiotics to prevent infection from the thorns.(3) Anti-inflammatory drugs are given to reduce the inflammation around the joints.

Surgery is needed to remove the thorn fragments from the joint. Plant thorn arthritis causes inflammation of the synovium, which may further damage the joint or the cartilage. In such cases, synovectomy may be needed. It is a procedure in which the synovium or the lining of the joint is removed. As keyhole surgery is performed in which a small hole is made near the affected joint and thorns are removed. Open surgery may be needed for the removal of the synovium.

How to Prevent Plant Thorn Arthritis?

Plant thorn arthritis can be prevented by minimizing contact with the plants bearing thorns.

People who do gardening activities often should follow the below-mentioned precautions to prevent plant thorn arthritis:

  • Wear thick protective gloves
  • Wear elbow and knee pads while gardening
  • Wear protective boots and clothing that cover the body
  • Do not dig with hands, use specific gardening tools for it
  • Use protective eye gear
  • Be up-to-date with the tetanus vaccination

People can recover fully from plant thorn arthritis if a proper diagnosis is made on time. The only treatment for this type of arthritis is the early removal of thorns to prevent inflammation. A person who has an injury with a plant thorn and develops warm and discoloration around the joint, swelling, pain, and reduced range of motion should contact the doctor.

Proper treatment and care can be helpful in recovering from plant thorn arthritis and prevent it from developing into chronic arthritis.

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:September 26, 2022

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