Oligoarthritis: Definition, Cause, Symptoms and Treatment


Oligo in Latin means few. A characteristic of this ailment is that it affects a few joints of the body, during the first six months, depending on the number of joints affected by this disease and its duration; This condition is classified either as a persistent or extended type. In the first case, the disease affects less than four joints throughout its course. However, in the second, more than four joints are affected during the first six months of the disease. It is also called Polyarthritis.

What causes Oligoarthritis

The causes of this type of arthritis are not known yet. One in every 1,000 children who belong to 0-16 years can develop this condition. Oligoarthritis is one of eight types of arthritis that affects children.


  • Inflammation and pain are the common symptoms
  • Uneven bone growth is observed
  • Children who suffer from this condition also develop eye diseases.
  • A substance called antinuclear antibodies in the blood test can confirm ocular inflammation.
  • Redness and deformation of the joints
  • Restricted movements due to unequal growth of the lower extremities.
  • Rare signs are fever, fatigue, anemia, and weakness
  • Girls 1-5 years old have a high risk of developing this condition.
  • When rashes appear, the disease has become an extended type that requires an accelerated treatment; the chances of developing chronic arthritis increase if the treatment is not delayed at this stage.


The early start of treatment can prevent complications such as loss of sight. However, unfortunately, most common signs such as pain are not severe in the early stages, and patients ignore this condition. Blood tests, X-rays of the extremities and joints, and examination of the eyes are the usual diagnostic methods performed by a specialist such as a pediatric rheumatologist. Steroids and anti-inflammatory drugs reduce pain, and anti-rheumatoid drugs mitigate the progression of the disease.

Exercises ordered by the physiotherapist can strengthen the muscles, increase the joint’s flexibility, and help the child achieve average growth of the extremities. The use of eye drops with cortisone, and regular eye checks can treat the swelling. Sources of omega-3 fatty acids such as fish oil can reduce inflammation for a limited period (6 months).