What is Polyarthritis: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Definition: Polyarthritis is arthritis that involves 5 or more joints simultaneously.

Usually associated with autoimmune diseases can be experienced at any age and not in a specific gender.


Polyarthritis is commonly associated with an autoimmune attack on the joints. There are other causes including systemic inflammatory reactions or tick bites, infections, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE, is a problem of the systemic immune system), tumors, viral diseases, intestinal diseases.

Signs and Symptoms of Polyarthritis

The most prevalent sign is lameness in multiple extremities. Lameness can affect the limbs or many limbs at the same time.

Other common signs include:

  • Fever
  • Pain
  • Anorexia
  • Weightloss
  • Swollen joints
  • Lethargy

When a person has polyarthritis, they may also have the following conditions:

  • Antisynthetase syndrome
  • Behcet’s disease
  • Enfermedad de Besnier-Boeck-Schaumann
  • Mixed connective tissue disease
  • Rheumatic fever
  • Granulomatosis de Wegener

Most patients who are diagnosed with polyarthritis need the following tests:

  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Urine analysis
  • Chest x-rays
  • Titles of infectious diseases
  • Abdominal Ultrasound
  • Abdominal Ultrasound: is a non-invasive test that uses sound waves to create images of the interior (organs and structures)
  • Chest x-rays are done to rule out a hidden infection or tumors
  • ANA (antinuclear antibody) is a blood test to detect systemic lupus
  • Cardiac ultrasound (echocardiography) to evaluate endocarditis (infection of the heart valves)

Treatment for Polyarthritis

The treatments vary according to the cause, among them are:

  • Physiotherapy
  • Paracetamol
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Steroid injections
  • Oral steroids or other immune modulated
  • Surgery

The treatment for polyarthritis depends on the severity of the symptoms, age of the patients, general state of health and other medical conditions. The treatment is aimed at controlling the symptoms and modifying the progression of the disease. The treatments include:

Education : this consists of the explanation of the disease, plays an important role in the management of polyarthritis.

Heating : heating may provide relief from non-inflammatory arthritis such as osteoarthritis.

Weight loss : will help with symptom control in overweight patients, patients who suffer from overweight, can have serious difficulties in the joints to sustain the weight of their body.

Physiotherapy : helps to recover and maintain joint function.

Simple analgesics (used regularly) : can be effective in pain control alone or in combination with other agents.