Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
Catherine Burt Driver, MD, is board certified in internal medicine and rheumatology by the American Board of Internal Medicine. Dr. Driver is a member of the American College of Rheumatology. She currently is in active practice in the field of rheumatology in Mission Viejo, Calif., where she is a partner in Mission Internal Medical Group.
Plant thorn arthritis is a noninfectious inflammation of a joint as a result
of a thorn puncturing the joint and leaving residual plant matter lodged within
the joint. The plant thorn fragments cause a localized inflammation reaction in
the joint lining tissue that leads to swelling, stiffness, loss of range of
motion, and pain. The joint lining tissue is called the synovium. Inflammation
of this tissue is medically referred to as
synovitis. Plant thorn arthritis is
also called plant thorn synovitis.
The plants that commonly cause plant thorn arthritis are those that produce
thorns. These plants include palm trees, roses, black-thorn shrubs, cacti,
bougainvillea, yucca, pyracantha, plum trees, and mesquite trees.
What joints are typically involved in plant thorn arthritis?
Plant thorn arthritis typically affects only a single joint -- the joint
was pierced by the plant thorn. The most common joints affected by plant thorn
arthritis are those that can be exposed to being stabbed by falling into or
brushing up against plants with thorns. Joints that are commonly affected by
plant thorn synovitis include the small joints of the hands (metacarpophalangeal
joints, proximal interphalangeal joints), feet, elbows, knees, and ankles.
What are plant thorn arthritis symptoms and
Plant thorn arthritis causes the involved joint to be swollen, slightly
reddish, stiff, and painful. The joint loses its full range of
motion and is often tender. These symptoms may be noticed only many days after
the initial thorn puncture. It is not uncommon for the person affected by plant
thorn arthritis to remove the thorn immediately after the puncture and then
develop the arthritis many days or weeks later and not even recall that the
joint had been punctured previously! This is because the original thorn has
actually left behind small fragments of thorn vegetable matter that gradually
cause the inflammation of plant thorn arthritis. This form of single joint
arthritis (monoarthritis) then becomes chronic until appropriately treated.
In a reasonable attempt to better the lives of my daughter, Cara, and
son-in-law, Jim, as well as enjoy their company during a concentrated effort, I
assisted them in landscaping one fine weekend day. With the primary goal of
building a retaining wall and secondary goal of tidying up overgrown greenery, I
attacked a palm tree grouping with pruning shears. The palm tree group of three
(Phoenix roebelenii to be scientifically precise) hadn't been pruned since they
moved in some two years ago. It was well overgrown and in serious need of
Jim was industriously off at the store purchasing cement blocks, and I was in
a hurry to get the pruning completed so as not slow the construction of a block
retaining wall upon his return. I was wearing gloves that had extra padding over
the knuckles. I finished the pruning in a timely manner and was available to
help Jim unload the blocks when they arrived.
We installed the blocks regularly along a well-designed foundation that Jim
and his boyhood friend Andrew built. While lifting the blocks, I felt a soreness
in my right hand and at first wondered if I had strained the tendons of my
fingers by pruning too rapidly. I removed the work glove on my right hand to
find two thorn tips embedded in it! One was in the back of first segment
(proximal phalanx) of my middle finger. The other was stuck directly in the
joint at the base of the middle finger, the knuckle joint (third