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Juvenile Arthritis

Juvenile arthritis (JA) is arthritis that happens in children. It causes joint swelling, pain, stiffness, and loss of motion. It can affect any joint, but is more common in the knees, hands, and feet. In some cases it can affect internal organs as well.

The most common type of JA that children get is juvenile idiopathic arthritis. There are several other forms of arthritis affecting children.

One early sign of JA may be limping in the morning. Symptoms can come and go. Some children have just one or two flare-ups. Others have symptoms that never go away. JA can cause growth problems and eye inflammation in some children.

No one knows exactly what causes JA. Most types are autoimmune disorders. This means that your immune system, which normally helps your body fight infection, attacks your body’s own tissues.

JA can be hard to diagnose. Your health care provider may do a physical exam, lab tests, and x-rays. A team of providers usually treats JA. Medicines and physical therapy can help maintain movement and reduce swelling and pain. They may also help prevent and treat complications.

What is childhood arthritis?

mother pushing child down slide

Arthritis in children is called childhood arthritis or juvenile arthritis. The most common type of childhood arthritis is juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), also known as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.

Childhood arthritis can cause permanent physical damage to joints. This damage can make it hard for the child to do everyday things like walking or dressing and can result in disability.

 

Is there a cure for childhood arthritis?

Although there is no cure, some children with arthritis achieve permanent remission, which means the disease is no longer active. Any physical damage to the joint will remain.

 

What are the signs and symptoms of childhood arthritis?

Symptoms may come and go over time. There may be times when symptoms get worse, known as flares, and times when symptoms get better, known as remission. Signs and symptoms include:

  • Joint pain
  • Swelling
  • Fever
  • Stiffness
  • Rash
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Inflammation of the eye
  • Difficulty with daily living activities such as walking, dressing, and playing

 

What causes childhood arthritis?

The exact cause of childhood arthritis is unknown. In childhood arthritis the immune system may not work right which causes the inflammation in the joints and other body systems.

 

How is childhood arthritis diagnosed?

Childhood arthritis is diagnosed through a physical examination and review of symptoms, X-rays, and lab tests. A doctor should make this diagnosis, particularly a rheumatologist who specializes in arthritis and other related conditions in children. These doctors are called pediatric rheumatologists.

Who gets childhood arthritis?

Childhood arthritis can affect children of all ages, races and ethnic backgrounds.

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