This website uses cookies to give you the best experience. By continuing to use this website you are consenting to cookies being used. You can delete and block cookies from within your browsers settings. For more information please refer to our privacy and cookie policy page.


Multiple joint arthritis

Multiple swollen joints are unlikely to be due to infection (other than some forms of reactive arthritis) or trauma and make a systemic disease more likely.

Key conditions include:

  • Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis is likely but malignancy (leukaemia) has to be excluded. 
  • Metabolic conditions (osteomalacia / rickets). 
  • Chromosomal conditions (e.g., Downs syndrome associated arthritis). 
  • Inherited metabolic conditions (e.g., Mucopolysaccharidoses) and can occur with joint contractures. 
  • Multisystem disease such as Juvenile Systemic Lupus Erythematosus or Juvenile Dermatomyositis or Vasculitis tend to cause joint pain (arthralgia) rather than joint swelling. 
  • Rheumatic fever (a form of reactive arthritis that follows pharyngeal streptococcal infection) is uncommon in the UK, but common in developing countries. The arthritis can involve many joints, often flitting from joint to joint. 
  • Post viral arthritis such as with rubella infection can involve many joints whereas after chicken pox (varicella) may affect just one or several joints.

The photograph below shows polyarthritis affecting small joints of the hands and wrists (Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis).

The photograph below shows swollen knees and quadriceps wasting due to chronic inflammatory arthritis. 

The photograph below shows polyarthritis affecting the fingers and wrists (right more than the left) in polyarticular JIA.

Site Statistics

To date (end of December 2021) PMM has >984,153 hits and >410,366 users from 221 countries!

Why register?

Some parts of pmm which involve pictures or videos of children, can only be viewed by registered users. Registering also allows you to bookmark favourite pages and track your viewing.

find out more

Short online courses

from Newcastle University, UK

e-resources from PMM

pmm for you

Please help us ensure pmm is as useful to you as possible by completing this short survey

complete survey