Is Arthritis Contagious?

Can Arthritis Be Transmitted From Person to Person?

Sneezing man
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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?

Not Contagious

The short answer is no -- arthritis is not contagious.

A contagious disease is defined as an infectious disease that is communicable by contact with a person who has it -- through a bodily discharge or with an object touched by the infected individual. Arthritis is not a contagious or communicable disease.

Arthritis Risk Factors

To consider how or why people develop arthritis, we 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?

Cause of Arthritis Is Usually Unknown

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

The Bug Is, The Disease Is Not

Reactive arthritis and infectious arthritis are two types that people may suspect are 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."

Similarly, with septic arthritis or viral arthritis, the diseases are not contagious but the bacteria or virus that cause them may be transmitted. There are no behaviors that you need to change if you live with or are near a person who has arthritis. And, surely, you need not worry if you are near someone who is coughing or sneezing. Not with regard to arthritis, that is. You may still catch a cold.


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

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