Feature Article

Acute monoarthritis: diagnosis in adults

Sally Cox, Les Cleland



Recognition and appropriate management of an acute monoarthritis requires
strategic assembly and analysis of information from the history, the examination and a few selective tests.

Key Points

  • Common causes of monoarthritis are infection, trauma and crystal-induced synovitis.
  • Monoarthritis must be regarded as potentially septic until proven otherwise.
  • Synovial fluid examination is the most important investigation.
  • Polyarticular conditions can present initially with a single inflamed joint.
  • Contextual information and extra-articular features often provide clues to the underlying diagnosis.