Polyarthralgia: Symptoms, Risk Factors, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention

It is a medical condition involving pain in multiple joints which is more common in the elderly.

It is mainly associated with rheumatoid arthritis ; however, it is not a disorder in itself.

It can be an indication of numerous diseases, that is the reason why it is very important to express a thorough investigation on the root problem. The joint pain will start from mild to much more vigorous.

It is described as a throbbing, dull, throbbing pain in the joints that causes disability in the future. It gets worse over time, starting at the age of 30 to 50 years of age.

The doctor should take a detailed history and inspection so that he can find the cause and begin treatment. In this way, we can prevent any adverse consequences.

Polyarthralgia occurs when someone experiences pain in more than one joint, which is usually associated with arthritic pain. Diagnosis is difficult due to numerous symptoms and signs.

With age, it is common to start experiencing some joint pain from time to time, however this pain should be restricted to one joint at a time.

However, when the pain passes to more than five joint parts at the same time, the condition is known as polyarthralgia.

If fewer than 5 joints are affected, the condition is called oligoarthralgia. Polyarthralgia requires to be distinguished from polymyalgia, so the latter will involve pain and a weakness of various muscle areas around the body.

Polyarthralgia does not completely affect muscle tissue, only parts of the joint, although polymyalgia usually results in the development of polyarthralgia.

Signs and symptoms of polyarthralgia

The signs or symptoms of polyarthralgia are similar to those of other common types of arthritis, only on a larger scale and involving many more joints. These signs and symptoms include:

Swelling : It is caused by inflammation within the joint.

Joint pain : It is due to inflammatory pressure on the nerve endings within the joint.

Stiffness – Damage to cartilage decreases movement in the joint, making it difficult for it to move.

Excruciating pain : the intensity of the pain is much worse than traditional arthritis.

Due to these symptoms, it resembles rheumatoid arthritis. These signs and symptoms are most evident from the middle age, around 30, until old age, in the 50 years.

Also, because polyarthralgia affects many joints, signs and symptoms can be experienced in the knees, hips, hands, legs, shoulders, and upper limb.

Polyarthralgia also shares some similarities with polymyalgia. Both conditions cause similar levels of pain. It is also possible to have both conditions at the same time.

Polyarthralgia affects the joints, while polymyalgia affects the muscles around the joints. Symptoms of polymyalgia include the following:

  • Pain in the shoulder muscles.
  • Pain in the muscles of the hips, thighs, buttocks, or upper arms.
  • Reduced range of motion in affected areas.
  • Stiffness in painful areas.

Risk factor’s

You may be at higher risk for developing polyarthralgia if:

  • You are overweight or obese, as excess weight can put extra pressure on your joints.
  • You have a history of joint injuries or surgery.
  • He is an older adult.
  • You do physically demanding jobs that put your joints at risk for overuse.
  • She is a woman.
  • You have a family history of any condition that affects your joints.

Causes of polyarthralgia

Most people view arthritis as a unique medical problem; however, it deals with more than 100 types of joint diseases, and polyarthralgia is just one type of arthritis.

Polyarthralgia is a type of inflammatory arthritis caused by damage to the joints due to deterioration, and can be due to overuse with age or a painful injury. When this happens, the cartilage within the joint is damaged.

Cartilage is the type of tissue found at the end of a bone, which allows two bones to move over each other without problems. In general, cartilage is constantly lost through physical activity, but the body produces more to replace the lost cartilage.

Even with age, as this replacement system slows down, the immune system remains active, it also works in the joints by discharging white blood cells that activate inflammation to prevent any disease or infection within the joints, which keeps the individual healthy.

Certain infections, such as alphavirus alphavirus infections, can also cause polyarthralgia. Arthrogenic alphaviruses are carried by mosquitoes. These infections are usually isolated to small areas in hot climates.

Other causes of polyarthralgia are high-impact exercises that stress the joint, such as running and jumping, and overuse of the joints. Joint overuse is common in people who have physically demanding jobs.

But age is commonly the main reason for polyarthralgia because, as noted above, cartilage weakens with age due to decreased regeneration. Other common causes include insufficient physical activity and obesity, the first cause of cartilage to weaken from underuse and the first from overuse.

Obesity is believed to be another cause of polyarthralgia. As weight increases, the joints are continually bombarded with weight loads and are under constant pressure on parts of the joint, allowing movement that can accelerate cartilage degeneration.

There are some reasons that trigger the situation, such as trauma due to, for example, an accident or injury directly to the joint, or regular cigarette smoking that leads to poor vascular function.

Lastly, many people are genetically susceptible to polyarthralgia. In these circumstances, the signs and symptoms of polyarthralgia start from an early age.

Common causes

Injuries : Sports-related injuries are one of the most important causes of polyarthralgia.

Regardless of age and gender, this disease could affect the individual and cause severe pain and swelling in the affected area.

This disorder is often seen in athletes who were injured while playing their favorite sports, such as soccer or cricket.

Rheumatoid Arthritis – Interestingly, rheumatoid arthritis is one of the major reasons for polyarthralgia that triggers joint pain and inflammation in the affected area.

Both women and men suffer from it, however, women in the 40-50 age group tend to be more susceptible to this disorder. Also, people who carry the HLA-DR1 gene are more prone to getting this disease than people who have this gene in their bodies.

Viral infections : Viral infections can also cause polyarthralgia arthritis. The most common viruses that have been found to cause this medical condition include Hepatitis, Human Immunodeficiency Virus, Chikungunya infection, and alpha viral infections.

Additionally, there are also certain bacterial infections that will cause polyarthralgia arthritis, including subacute bacterial endocarditis.

Drug Reaction : Unfortunately, certain medications used for different remedies can also lead to polyarthralgia arthritis.

While the drugs useful for treating another disease are not tailored to an individual, it has a tendency to react with the body’s system to induce different complications.

Rifabutin is among the drugs that cause polyarthralgia arthritis. This medicine is used to cure tuberculosis, but when this medicine is taken in high doses, it can lead to the painful situation of polyarthralgia arthritis.

Gout : Gout disease is one of the powerful causes of polyarthralgia. This common inflammatory problem occurs in both men and women.

In this metabolic condition, large amounts of uric acid build up in the blood, creating a crystalline deposition of uric acid around various joints. This ultimately causes polyarthralgia.

Osteoarthritis : Osteoarthritis, probably the most common forms of arthritis, is also a major cause of polyarthralgia.

This disorder is known to affect more women, mainly during menopause, who are generally over 40 years of age, compared to men of the same age group.

This is due to significant calcium deficiency in women, if they are approaching or have already reached the menopausal phase.

Other diseases : Polyarthralgia can be caused by many existing diseases, for example, mixed connective tissue disease (MCTD).

Mixed connective tissue disease includes medical problems, such as scleroderma and Sjogren’s syndrome , which contribute to polyarthralgia.

Polyarthralgia Diagnosis and Blood Test

Most patients who have a developing case of polyarthralgia at first think that they are suffering from arthritis pain. Often times, your doctor is the first point of contact for a patient seeking an accurate diagnosis.

The family doctor will require a complete personal and family health history, paying special attention to any family history of rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, viral or bacterial infection, or autoimmune conditions.

This is followed by a physical exam, with particular attention to areas where stiffness, redness, and pain are felt. Now, the health specialist will most likely order some tests. The most common tests useful for diagnosing this disorder include:

Complete blood count (CBC) : Complete blood count and blood chemistry test are basic tests to evaluate signs of blood infection, elevated white blood cells (WBC), or antibodies in the blood.

Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR or thirst) : erythrocyte sedimentation rate that checks for markers of inflammation in the body.

C-reactive protein level test : This test is done to check the levels of inflammation in the heart.

Anticyclic Citrullinated Peptide (Anti-CCP) Test – This test checks for anticyclic citrullinated peptide antibody, which indicates rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatoid factor test (latex RF) : This test is also used to make a positive diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis.

Joint tissue and fluid biopsies : to check for germs and bacteria, viral or fungal problems, as well as other markers of possible underlying causes.

MRI and / or CT scan tests : These tests will help the doctor look inside the body to get a better idea of ​​what is happening to the affected joint systems.

Whether any of these tests are ordered depends on the list of symptoms and the seriousness. The objective of the diagnostic part is to rule out all circumstances with similar signs and symptoms and to detect the two underlying causes, as well as the existence of polyarthralgia itself.


Treatment methods for polyarthralgia are varied. It is due to the number of underlying causes.

Typically, the method for medication is to first identify the underlying causes and then treat that while dealing with the immediate signs and symptoms of the polyarthralgia itself.

The primary goal of polyarthralgia treatment is to ideally resolve or control the contributing factor as a pathway to reduction or termination of signs and symptoms, alleviating symptoms, and improving the quality of life of patients.

Depending on the patient’s medical history and other medical conditions, a combination strategy (medicine plus therapy plus life skills, for example, stress prevention for better pain management) is often suggested.

Here are some of the commonly prescribed treatments for polyarthralgia:

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) : These can be taken in your prescription or in over-the-counter medications. Although polyarthralgia generally does not cause noticeable swelling, it does cause irritation, which non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs could effectively address.

Pain Medications : If you have trouble sleeping due to severe pain, you may be given antidepressant medications.

They can also be consumed as over-the-counter medications or in a prescribed form depending on the severity and regularity of pain signs and symptoms, taken orally or topically, or occasionally as an injection.

Physical therapy – You will be referred to a physical therapist to learn stretching and strengthening exercises. To begin with, it would be very difficult to move the fingers or hands affected by inflammation. But gradually your symptoms will improve as you start working on it.

Improving the ability to move, overall body strength, and general flexibility are often key goals for the physical therapy treatment method.

Acupuncture : Researchers have found that acupuncture can be an effective way to manage mild to moderate pain associated with polyarthralgia. Acupuncture should not replace other treatments recommended by your doctor. Instead, acupuncture should be used in addition to other treatments.

Massage Therapy : Massage therapy can help reduce pain associated with arthritis and also restore some movement. Research is limited, and studies have only looked at benefits for people with some types of arthritis. Physical therapists may include massage as part of a treatment plan.

You can also see a massage therapist at a spa, but you must verify that they have the proper license. Massage should be used in addition to other treatments recommended by your doctor.

Heats or cools the joints : Painful joints may respond to the application of heat or the application of ice. To use heat, apply a heating pad to the joint or try soaking in a warm bath.

To cool painful joints, apply ice or frozen vegetable packets for at least 20 minutes, three times a day.

Joint Replacement Surgery – In extreme cases or as a final remedy, joint replacement surgery is sometimes indicated. However, this is typically seen as an alternative only if everyone else has not yielded satisfactory results.

Life Skills : It could be as debilitating for both body and mind to settle for a disorder like polyarthralgia that influences multiple joint systems and has become persistent.

Treat Symptoms : Polyarthralgia is often associated with other expressions of symptoms in addition to joint pain. Treating these other symptoms can help reduce pain. Examples of treatments for these symptoms may include:

  • Muscle relaxants if you have muscle spasms.
  • Topical capsaicin or antidepressants to reduce associated neuropathic pain.
  • Topical lidocaine (lmx 4, lmx 5, anecream, rectasmoothe, recticare) to relieve moderate to severe muscle pain.

Is polyarthralgia curable?

Polyarthralgia can be cured if treatments are followed, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), pain medications, physical therapy, joint replacement surgery, or life skills improvement.

One can recover from polyarthralgia by the medications mentioned above.

Can it be prevented?

As of yet, there is no known method to prevent polyarthralgia. This is partly due to the wide range of causes that can trigger this condition.

However, some of these potential causes can be prevented, for example, by being careful not to overuse or damage joint systems and to avoid exposure to certain toxins, bacteria, viruses, or fungi.

According to a 2007 report published in The Practitioner magazine, early diagnosis is the key to successful management.

If you’ve read the information here and more questions or suspect that your symptoms (or those of a loved one) may be compatible with polyarthralgia, it’s time to act.

Here’s what to do next:

  • Create a log of symptoms, including frequency, duration, and severity (for example, is pain minimal or severe in the range of 1 to 10?).
  • Contact your family members to find out if there is a family history of any of the possible underlying causes listed here.
  • Make an appointment with your family doctor and bring the record and information with you to the appointment.
  • Undergo physical examination and tests to arrive at an accurate diagnosis.

By following these steps, you can progress to treatment where you can find relief from symptoms.