Arthritis in Children with Psychiatric Deteriorations: A Case Series

Ma M, Sandberg J, Farhadian B, Silverman M, Xie Y, Thienemann M, Frankovich J. Arthritis in Children with Psychiatric Deteriorations: A Case Series. Dev Neurosci. 2023;45(6):325-334. doi: 10.1159/000530854. Epub 2023 May 12. PMID: 37231875.
We found that 55/193 (28%) of consecutive patients meeting PANS criteria developed chronic arthritis and 25/121 (21%) of those with related psychiatric deteriorations developed chronic arthritis. Here we describe 7 of these patients in detail and one sibling.
  • Many of our patients often have “dry” arthritis (no effusions found on physical exam) but subtle effusions detected by imaging and features of spondyloarthritis, enthesitis, and synovitis. Joint capsule thickening, not previously reported in children, is a common finding in the presented cases and in psoriatic arthritis in adults.
  • Due to the severity of psychiatric symptoms in some cases, which often overshadow joint symptoms, and concomitant sensory dysregulation (making the physical exam unreliable in the absence of effusions), we rely on imaging to improve sensitivity and specificity of the arthritis classification.
  • We also report the immunomodulatory treatments of these 7 patients (initially nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs with escalation to biologic medications) and note any coincidental changes to their arthritis and psychiatric symptoms while on immunomodulation.
  • Patients with overlapping psychiatric syndromes and arthritis may have a unifying cause and pose unique challenges; a multi-disciplinary team can utilize imaging to tailor and coordinate treatment for this patient population.

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