Polyarthritis: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments and More

Janice CarsonJanice Carson

Polyarthritis is a painful condition that is associated with or without joint inflammation. The key is, that more than one joint is affected, and as the condition progresses, more joints will be affected. This condition is often referred to as: polyarthralgia.

Polyarthritis is a form of arthritis that affects several joints at the same time. This condition is not age or general specific. Lupus, psoriatic and rheumatoid arthritis are a few of the most common types of polyarthritis.

Causes

Polyarthritis

In addition to the above mentioned, being a cause, polyarthritis can also be caused by a virus, such as: Chikungunya or Ross River viruses. In addition, polyarthritis can have its roots in degenerative joint disorders, such as: Osteoarthritis, Cancer, Still’s Disease, Gout, Sarcoidosis and Whipple’s Disease.

AIDS or Hepatitis may also be an underlying cause of polyarthritis. Hepatitis, for instance, often affects the liver, and many patients complain of joint pain. Due to the fact, that AIDS specifically attacks the immune system, this increases a person’s risk for getting polyarthritis.

There are many factors that a trained professional needs to consider, when properly diagnosing polyarthritis, such as: the number of joints affected, whether the joints are inflamed, other symptoms besides joint pain, and whether the joints are asymmetric or symmetric. Remember, early diagnosis is vital, so that proper treatment can be started as soon as possible, and painful symptoms can be reduced.

Symptoms

Some of the symptoms associated with polyarthritis include swelling, fever, skin rash, enlarged liver and lymph nodes. In addition, limited joint movement is also a common symptom. Not every patient will experience all the above listed symptoms. Some patients may only have joint pain, while other may feel a warming feeling in their joints.
Based on the virus type, the incubation period of Polyarthritis may be three days to three months. In some cases, symptoms manifest in the form of a headache, and the connection may not be made for several months.

It is important to seek medical care, if you are experiencing painful sensations in several body joints, as Polyarthritis may be the underlying cause of your symptoms.

Diagnosis

A conclusive diagnosis is reached, by the patient being asked a series of questions regarding their symptoms, in addition to a physical exam. In some instances, an X-ray may be required, to pin-point an underlying issue. A blood test may also be administered, to see if a marker (rheumatoid factor) is present in the bloodstream. In addition, some muscular testing may also be conducted.

Treatment

Treatment usually focuses on reducing the sensation of pain, and not necessarily curing the underlying cause of the pain. Some effective ways, to live a more comfortable life, are achieved in the following manner:

Lifestyle changes

Making some small lifestyle changes are enough to cure some major discomforts. For instance, in some patients, relief can be found by sleeping on a harder mattress. Losing some body weight is said to reduce pain in the joints. Supplements, such as glucosamine, have helped many patients with arthritis.

Medications

Analgesics are generally over-the-counter medications that can be purchased without a prescription. These mild drugs are said to work for many people, who have minor joint pain. In some cases, a doctor may prescribe an anti-inflammatory drug that contains steroids. These usually show quick results in reducing pain, but there are number of negative side-effects that should be noted, such as: abdominal pain or damage to the liver (if used for long periods of time).

Corticosteroids are another type of medication that blocks the body’s natural response (immune system) from attacking itself.

Anti-TNF Drugs are often used to block inflammations that are a direct result of the tumor necrosis factor. These types of drugs are administered through an IV, and have side effects, such as: fever and an increased risk of infection.

Exercises

Regular exercise may help to reduce stiffness and chronic joint pain. Exercise, especially stretching movements, can help to increase flexibility and range of motion.

Low impact exercise, such as swimming and Tai Chi, are excellent choices among people who suffer with polyarthritis and other conditions that cause joint pain.

Before engaging in an exercise program, and to avoid getting hurt, it is advised to seek the assistance of a qualified trainer or physical therapist.