Behcet’s Disease: Causes, Systems, Treatments - Dr. Burke Orthopedics


Behcet’s disease also known as Behcet’s syndrome is a chronic systemic inflammatory disease. It is a very rare form of arthritis and very little is known about it. It is categorized as a type of autoimmune, small-vessel vasculitis.

Behcet’s disease can affect anyone. However, it tends to affect people between the ages of 20 and 30 years. Predominantly common in Turkey and other Eastern countries with a higher inclination in men. In Western countries, the ratio of male to female susceptibility is reversed.

Causes of Behcet’s Disease

The etiological factors of Behcet’s disease are yet to be defined. Even with the body of research available, only suggestions can be drawn. Genetic factors, over a number of studies, have been suggested as the most significant cause in the development of Behcet’s disease. People who carry the HLA-B51 gene are found to be more susceptible to developing Behcet’s disease. The flaw in reaching this conclusion is that not every individual who carries the HLA-B51 has Behcet’s disease. Therefore, scientists now use the explanation of other existing factors, such as environmental factors that likely occur in the presence of the expressed HLA-B51 trigger it.

Symptoms of Behcet’s Disease

Behcet’s disease being an inflammatory disease of the small vessel, can affect nearly every organ system in the body. However, it has a more pronounced effect in three particular areas which make up its classical clinical triad:

  • Oral ulcers
  • Genital ulcers
  • Inflammation of the eye

Other symptoms that may develop include:

  • Inflammation of the spinal joints
  • Joint pain, especially within the large joints
  • Headaches
  • Joint inflammation and stiffness
  • Reddening of the eyes
  • Loss of vision
  • Swelling and pain in the lower extremities
  • Abdominal pain
  • Urinary symptoms e.g. increased urinary frequency

Treatment of Behcet’s Disease

Treatment goals include reducing symptoms, delaying disease progression and preventing complications. Skin lesions, being the most irritating symptoms, are often the reason why people go to see a doctor. The following medications are typically prescribed in Behcet’s disease.

  • Dapsone
  • Colchicine
  • Steroids

In cases of complications such as excess deposition of immune complexes in the joints, corrective surgical procedures are performed to reverse joint deformity.