Juvenile Arthritis

What Is Juvenile Arthritis?

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), previously known as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, is the most common type of arthritis in children.

Arthritis is a long-term condition characterized by:

  • stiffness
  • swelling
  • pain in the joints

An estimated 300,000 children in the United States have a form of arthritis. Some children have arthritis for just a few months, while others have arthritis for several years. In rare cases, the condition can last a lifetime.

The exact cause of JIA isn’t known. However, researchers believe it’s primarily an autoimmune disease. In people with autoimmune diseases, the immune system mistakenly attacks harmless cells as though they’re dangerous invaders.

Most cases of JIA are mild, but severe cases may result in complications, such as joint damage and chronic pain. Knowing the symptoms of JIA is important for getting treatment before the condition progresses.

Treatment usually consists of:

  • decreasing inflammation
  • managing pain
  • improving function
  • preventing joint damage

This can help ensure your child maintains an active, productive lifestyle

What are the symptoms of juvenile idiopathic arthritis?

The most common symptoms of JIA include:

  • joint pain
  • stiffness
  • reduced range of motion
  • warm and swollen joints
  • limping
  • redness in the affected area
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • recurrent fevers

JIA may affect one joint or multiple joints. In some cases, the condition can affect the entire body, causing a rash, fever, and swollen lymph nodes. This subtype is called systemic JIA (SJIA), and it occurs in about 10 percent of children with JIA.

What are the types of juvenile idiopathic arthritis?

There are six types of JIA:

  • Systemic JIA. This type of JIA affects the entire body, including the joints, skin, and internal organs.
  • Oligoarticular JIA. This type of JIA affects less than five joints. It occurs in about half of all children with arthritis.
  • Polyarticular JIA. This type of JIA affects five or more joints. The protein known as rheumatoid factor may or may not be present.
  • Juvenile psoriatic arthritis. This type of JIA affects the joints and occurs with psoriasis, which is why it’s referred to as juvenile psoriatic arthritis.
  • Enthesitis-related JIA. This type of JIA involves bone meeting the tendons and ligaments.
  • Undifferentiated arthritis. This type of JIA involves symptoms that may span two or more subtypes or not fit any of the other subtypes.

The more joints that are affected, usually the more severe the disease.