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Is Arthritis Contagious?

Can Arthritis Be Transmitted From Person to Person?


Updated May 21, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Question: Is Arthritis Contagious?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 52 million adults in the United States have doctor-diagnosed arthritis. That's a large number -- and it's growing as the population ages. What causes so many people to develop arthritis? Is arthritis contagious? Is arthritis a disease that can be transmitted from person to person?

Answer: The short answer is no -- arthritis is not contagious. To consider how or why people develop arthritis, we must look at risk factors such as age, gender, genetics, obesity, joint injury, infection, occupation, smoking, and family history.

A risk factor increases your likelihood of developing a disease or condition. Theoretically, the more risk factors you have, the higher your risk of developing that condition. Do you have any of the risk factors associated with arthritis?
Arthritis Risk Factor Quiz

Cause Unknown

For most types of arthritis, the cause is unknown. For a few types, the cause is known, but you will not see human-to-human transmission listed among the causes.

A Specific Example

Reactive arthritis and infectious arthritis are two types that people may suspect as being contagious -- but like other types of arthritis, they are not contagious. According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), "reactive arthritis is not contagious; that is, a person with the disorder cannot pass the arthritis on to someone else. However, the bacteria that can trigger reactive arthritis can be passed from person to person."


Questions and Answers About Reactive Arthritis. NIAMS. April 2009.

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