Relapsing polycondrosis is very rare autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation in the cartilaginous tissues throughout the body. Cartilage is a type of connective tissue that is tough and flexible.
The most common cartilaginous tissues affected by relapsing polychondritis are in the ears, nose, eyes, joints and respiratory tract.
Although relapsing polychondritis is a chronic (long-term) disease, it tends to flare and can get better for long periods between flares.
Most cases are mild and can be well managed with appropriate care. However, if inflammation caused by the disease is not controlled, it can eventually cause permanent damage to the cartilage that cannot be repaired.
Relapsing polychondritis can be associated with other serious autoimmune conditions such as vasculitis and connective tissue disease. When this is the case, associated conditions must also be managed with appropriate medications.
The word "poly" comes from a Greek word meaning "many." The word "chondritis" comes from a Latin word describing inflammation of the cartilage. Putting it together, the name makes sense. "Relapsing polychondritis" means inflammation of cartilaginous tissues that comes and goes.