Plant Thorn Arthritis (Plant Thorn Synovitis or Thorn Arthritis)

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    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.

  • Medical Editor: Catherine Burt Driver, MD
    Catherine Burt Driver, MD

    Catherine Burt Driver, MD

    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.

Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Doctor Gets Plant Thorn Arthritis

One patient's story

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.

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...

Plant thorn arthritis facts

  • 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.
  • Plant thorn arthritis typically affects only a single joint -- the joint that was pierced by the plant thorn.
  • 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.
  • The symptoms of plant thorn arthritis may occur long after the thorn is removed from the affected joint.
  • The diagnosis of plant thorn arthritis requires either detection of a piece of thorn within the joint by radiology testing or surgical removal of the thorn fragments and identification of the fragments microscopically in the laboratory.
  • Synovectomy is the surgical procedure that is used to cure plant thorn arthritis.

What is plant thorn arthritis?

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.

What plants cause plant thorn arthritis?

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. Exposure to these plants is the greatest risk factor for plant thorn arthritis.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/2/2016

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