The physician understands the medical term polyarthritis to mean inflammation of several joints occurring at the same time. One of the most common forms of joint inflammation is what is known as rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, infections are often a reason why joint inflammation develops. Metabolic diseases can also be a cause.


What is Polyarthritis?

If more than one joint is affected by inflammation, doctors speak of polyarthritis. The word arthritis derives from the Greek “arth” – the joint – and the word “itis” – the “inflammation” together, with the term “poly” representing the plural meaning. If only one joint is affected by the inflammation, it is the act is monoarthritis. See polyhobbies for Meanings of Lyell Syndrome.

A corresponding inflammation can occur spontaneously, which is referred to as acute arthritis. If the inflammation lasts longer or occurs again and again, the doctor speaks of a chronic disease, which is also popularly referred to as rheumatism.


There are different types and forms of polyarthritis. The most common causes are infections, metabolic diseases as well as autoimmune diseases and joint wear and tear. In the case of infection, bacteria and other pathogens are responsible for the inflammation.

They enter through an open wound and then infect the affected joints. Classic pathogens are streptococci, staphylococci, salmonella, as well as Haemophilus influenzae and Escherichia coli. If you have an autoimmune disease, your own immune system attacks your joints. Typical autoimmune diseases that trigger polyarthritis are psoriasis, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis as well as Bechterew’s disease or rheumatoid arthritis (rheumatism).

Chronic polyarthritis is one of the most common forms of joint inflammation. Metabolic diseases are also responsible for polyarthritis. Patients often suffer from polyarthritis when suffering from gout. The inflammation is triggered by the increase in uric acid, which is popularly known as a gout attack.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

Typical signs of polyarthritis are joint pain, which occurs mainly at rest and is accompanied by swelling of the joints. There is usually morning stiffness, which improves over time with movement of the inflamed joints. At the beginning of the disease, the knuckles and wrists of both hands are usually affected, with the end joints of the fingers remaining unaffected by the inflammation.

Flexor and extensor tendons in the fingers can also be affected. As the disease progresses, the progressive bone and cartilage degradation leads to misalignments of the corresponding joints, which lead to significant movement restrictions. Fine motor skills decrease significantly, later even everyday tasks such as tying shoelaces can no longer be carried out.

Larger joints such as shoulders, elbows, hips or knees can also be affected by the disease. Involvement of the cervical spine is also possible, polyarthritic changes in other parts of the spine are untypical. In about 50 percent, the polyarthritis spreads to other organs.

Inflammation of the blood vessels often occurs, which can result in circulatory disorders and coronary heart disease. Nerve damage in the area of ​​the inflamed joints becomes noticeable through sensory disturbances, numbness, burning pain and occasionally signs of paralysis. An infestation of the lacrimal and salivary glands manifests itself in dry mouth and dry eyes.

Diagnosis & History

In order to diagnose polyarthritis, the doctor needs a few examination steps. He mainly collects the medical history of the patient and asks about any symptoms. This is followed by physical examinations and blood tests. The doctor treating you will also take an X-ray of the affected joints.

First and foremost, the symptoms that the patients describe already give a relatively good insight into whether polyarthritis is present. However, in order to be able to provide an accurate diagnosis, the doctor must also answer the following questions, such as which joints are affected and what symptoms have occurred. It is also advantageous for the patient to state how long they have been suffering from the symptoms described. The fact that the joint has been put under more strain (e.g. due to different types of sport) or whether there is an underlying disease (e.g. gout) are also decisive factors for the diagnosis.

The doctor will examine the affected joint to see if there is any swelling or redness. In the case of polyarthritis, the level of inflammation in the blood is often elevated. Classic features are an increase in leukocytes (white blood cells), blood sedimentation rate and CRP (the C-reactive protein).

The course of the disease usually depends on why the polyarthritis developed. If it is an infection, the inflammation will heal completely after timely treatment. In chronic forms of polyarthritis, it is possible that the inflammatory process is slowed down. However, a cure is not possible, so the patient must expect a worsening of the condition.


With polyarthritis, there is a risk of various complications if the condition is not treated or is treated incorrectly. There is a risk of secondary diseases, severe damage to the joints and a deterioration in the quality of life. Chronic polyarthritis is one of the systemic diseases.

This means the inflammation can spread to internal organs like the lungs and heart. The same applies to the vessels. In the worst case, rheumatoid arthritis can lead to stiffening or deformity of the joints, resulting in disability. The after-effects of polyarthritis affect everyday things.

The affected person is sometimes no longer able to work on the computer because they can no longer use the mouse and keyboard. In addition, professional activities or everyday life are impaired. It is not uncommon for patients to suffer from disturbances in their night’s sleep as a result of the polyarthritis.

In the case of many patients, these limitations in the quality of life also have an effect on their psyche. The people concerned feel helpless or useless. In severe cases, there is a risk of anxiety and clinical depression.

Cardiac inflammations such as myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) or pericarditis (inflammation of the sac around the heart) represent a serious effect of polyarthritis. As a result, there is a risk of congestive heart failure. The heart is no longer able to circulate the blood through the body without problems. Other possible complications of polyarthritis are anemia (low blood count), osteoporosis (bone loss) or Sjögren’s syndrome.

When should you go to the doctor?

Pain, discomfort, or irritation in the joints are considered unusual. If the symptoms persist, recur or increase in intensity, a doctor is needed. If the irregularities are due to excessive physical strain, the affected areas should be cooled. After a period of rest and rest, there is usually relief and subsequent freedom from symptoms. A doctor is not required in these cases. Any swelling, changes in skin texture, or morning stiffness are causes for concern. If mobility is impaired or if stretching and bending movements can no longer be carried out completely, a doctor’s visit is advisable.

A doctor is required in the event of a decrease in physical resilience, a slightly increased body temperature, a feeling of illness and general uncertainties when moving about. If there are disturbances in fine motor skills, a feeling of warmth in the joints and poor posture, a doctor should be consulted. If, in addition to the physical irregularities, the person concerned also suffers from emotional or psychological abnormalities, it is also necessary to consult a doctor. Teariness, depressive moods, withdrawal behavior or aggressive tendencies are indications of a health disorder that needs to be investigated and treated. Sleep disorders, concentration problems and a loss of quality of life should be discussed with a doctor.

Treatment & Therapy

The treatment of polyarthritis depends on the cause of the inflammation. First and foremost, the affected joints must be immobilized and cooled. painkillers help treat symptoms; many doctors also prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs and glucocorticoids (better known as “cortisone”).

Antibiotics also help with acute inflammation and special drugs against rheumatism. Many medical professionals also recommend surgery to relieve symptoms or cure inflammation. Other treatment options include physiotherapy, ergotherapy and physical therapy.

Above all, the latter therapy options are often used in chronic diseases, since many patients already complain about “stiff” joints.


The patient can very well prevent polyarthritis. It is important that the joints are moved regularly and that the load is evenly distributed. This is favored with daily walks, cycling, gymnastics or swimming.

It is also important that injuries are treated in a timely manner. Open wounds in particular (near the joint) should be treated accordingly so that no inflammation develops in the joints. It is also important that underlying diseases, such as gout, are treated and treated regularly. Polyarthritis can only be prevented if the prescribed medication is taken regularly.


In the case of polyarthritis, there are only a few measures or options for aftercare available to those affected, so that in the case of this disease, a doctor should be consulted as quickly as possible in order to prevent further complications or symptoms. An early diagnosis usually has a very positive effect on the further course of the disease and can also prevent further complications.

Therefore, those affected should contact a doctor at the first signs and symptoms of polyarthritis. Most of those affected are dependent on taking various medications. The correct dosage and regular intake should always be observed in order to relieve the symptoms properly and permanently.

When taking antibiotics, it should also be noted that they must not be taken together with alcohol. Furthermore, the polyarthritis can be alleviated with the help of physiotherapy or physiotherapy. The person concerned can also carry out many of the exercises at home, thereby speeding up the treatment. Those affected are often dependent on the help of other people in their everyday lives, with help and care from their own family having a positive effect on the further course of the disease.

You can do that yourself

Polyarthritis is the best-known form of rheumatic diseases. If it is based on chronic inflammation, it cannot be cured. Nevertheless, its course can be alleviated.

Dietary supplements such as the active ingredients chondroitin sulfate, N-acetyl glucosamine and D-glucosamine sulfate can help with the medication prescribed by the doctor. Chondroitin sulfate is a water-binding component of the body’s cartilage substance. It ensures that the articular cartilage remains elastic. Glucosamine sulfate is also a building block of the body tissues that form cartilage, tendons and ligaments. N-acetyl-glucosamine is said to stimulate the cartilage cells to produce more collagen. Studies have confirmed the effects of the above-mentioned substances just as often as they have disproved them, but some of those affected find them helpful.

Diet can also have a positive effect on polyarthritis. A base-rich diet is recommended so that the inflammation in the body is not further fueled. Therefore, the diet should be low in meat, but high in calcium and vitamins. Sour cherries or sour cherry juice are also said to lower the levels of inflammation in the blood. That’s what scientists in Portland found out.

For many patients it is a relief when they can talk to other affected people. The Deutsche Rheumaliga (www.rheuma-liga.de) provides help for self-help, is represented in every federal state and can help with information and contact points.