Polyarthritis affects every patient differently and is very difficult to diagnose. Just how severe or debilitating polyarthritis symptoms will become is all dependent on the underlying illness that has caused the condition to develop in the first place. Physical therapy is commonly used to treat polyarthritis symptoms along with rest and heat compressions. The medications that are used for polyarthritis vary but the goal of treatment is the same: treat the symptoms and relieve the pain.
What is Polyarthritis?
The John Hopkins Arthritis Center explains that polyarthritis is not an actual form of arthritis, but instead a description of several arthritic conditions that involve two or more joints. Unlike osteoarthritis (which involves only one joint), polyarthritis is not caused by an overuse of the joints or injury. It is generally caused by an autoimmune disorder that causes swelling and inflammation of the joints that result in pain.
Psoriatic arthritis is a polyarthritis that commonly affects the fingers and the spine. According to the Mayo Clinic, psoriatic arthritis is denoted by tissue inflammation that affects the joints and bones. This form of arthritis tends to affect people who are already suffering with psoriasis, which is a serious skin condition. Asymmetric psoriatric arthritis causes pain in the joints on one side of the body, and symmetric psoriatric arthritis produces pain in the joints of both sides of the body. Each form of psoriatic arthritis can result in deformities in the fingers and the small bones within the hands.
Rheumatoid arthritis affects approximately 2 million people in the United States and is more prevalent in women than in men. This form of polyarthritis involves the joints of the entire body and the U.S. National Library of Medicine reports that the condition often develops in people between the ages of 25 and 55. Aside from the pain that is associated with rheumatoid arthritis, the symptoms usually include weight loss, fatigue, lung damage, vision problems and heart conditions.
Lupus Related Arthritis
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) polyarthritis causes painful joints but does not cause permanent damage or deformities. According to Entrepenaur.com polyarthritis affects 80 percent of patients that are diagnosed with SLE and the inflammation and pain that develops is symmetric, affecting the knees, shoulders, hands and wrists equally. Inflammation can be mild to severe and affects the soft tissue that is in between the joints.
When polyarthritis is caused by an alphavirus it is called "alphavirus polyarthritis syndrome". According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) an alphavirus is often transmitted to humans through the bite of a mosquito and often causes fever, rash and encephalitis. Headache and dizziness may also develop as well as severe pain in the joints (arthralgia).