Objective: Evidence for treating chikungunya arthritis early in the course of illness is
scarce. This study assesses the efficacy of Methotrexate in early Chikungunya arthritis.
Methods: It is a randomized controlled open-label assessor-blinded trial with a crossover design.
Sixty patients with persistent post chikungunya arthritis with at least 3 or more tender or swollen
joints (28 joint count) were recruited. MTX arm was given oral Methotrexate and NSAID arm was
given NSAIDs (Naproxen 1 gm/day or Etoricoxib 120 mg/day). Patients were followed at 1, 2, 4
and 6 months. After 2 months patients in NSAID arm who have not achieved remission were given
MTX. The primary endpoint was remission (no tender or swollen joints by 28 joint count) at 6
months. Secondary endpoints were change in CDAI, Indian HAQ, total steroid use, total NSAID
use, and serious adverse effects. Intention to treat analysis was used.
Results: TJC, SJC, CDAI and HAQ were matched between two at baseline. Remission was
achieved by 28 patients (93%, CI- 78%-98%) in the NSAID arm and 26 patients (86%, CI-70%-
94%) in MTX arm (p=0.18). There was no significant difference in steroid need, change in HAQ,
CDAI, TJC or SJC. Those who have not achieved remission had higher disease activity at baseline.
Conclusion: A protocol-based approach with steroid and NSAIDs helped to achieve remission in
most patients with early subacute phase of post-Chikungunya arthritis and the effect was comparable
to that of early initiation of methotrexate.