Know the basics
What is juvenile rheumatoid arthritis?
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) is a form of arthritis in children. It is also known as “juvenile idiopathic arthritis” and “Still’s disease.” JRA differs from adult rheumatoid arthritis. It is a chronic disease and last for months or years, but about 75% of children outgrow it. No cure exists, but earlier detection, better drugs, and good treatment greatly improve chances for a full, active life. JRA can make it hard to do daily activities such as writing, dressing, and carrying things (hands, wrists); walking, playing, and standing (hips, knees, feet); and turning the head (neck).
How common is juvenile rheumatoid arthritis?
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is common in children under 17. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
Know the symptoms
What are the symptoms of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis?
Symptoms include joint pain and stiffness that are usually worse in the morning but get better toward the end of the day. Children may hold painful joints close to the body or bent. The three JRA types are pauciarticular, polyarticular, and systemic.
Pauciarticular JRA affects only a few joints (normally less than four: knees, elbows, and ankles) and occurs in 50% of children with JRA, more often in girls. Eye disease (inflammation, or swelling) can develop. Polyarticular JRA affects many joints and occurs in about 30% of children with JRA, more commonly in girls. Neck, knees, ankles, feet, wrists, and hands are affected. Children with this type may also have eye inflammation.
Systemic JRA occurs in about 20% of children with JRA, boys and girls equally. It often starts with fever, rash, changes in blood cells, and joint pain.
There may be some signs or symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
You should contact your doctor if you have any of the following:
- Your child has medicine side effects.
- Medicines don’t help or if you need referrals to physical or occupational therapists.
If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.
Know the causes
What causes juvenile rheumatoid arthritis?
JRA is an autoimmune disorder but its cause is unknown. Autoimmune means that the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues. Genetic and environmental factors may increase chances of getting JRA. JRA cannot be caught from another person.
Know the risk factors
What increases my risk for juvenile rheumatoid arthritis?
There are many risk factors for juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, such as:
- Sex: girls are more likely to have JRA than boys.
Understand the diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is juvenile rheumatoid arthritis diagnosed?
A combination of medicines, therapies, exercise, education, and pacing activities to prevent tiredness is best. A doctor who treats arthritis should care for your child. Medicines for inflammation include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Disease-modifying drugs (such as methotrexate) can also be tried. Exercise is important for joint movement and muscle strength. Splints can help rest painful, swollen joints.
How is juvenile rheumatoid arthritis treated?
The doctor takes a medical history, examines the joints, and may order laboratory tests and x-rays. Testing for the specific blood proteins rheumatoid factor (RP) and anti-nuclear anti-body (ANA) may help diagnosis. Systemic JRA may be hard to diagnose because inflammation may not start right away.
Lifestyle changes & home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage juvenile rheumatoid arthritis?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis:
- Have your child take prescribed medicines.
- Encourage exercising.
- Encourage your child to participate in many of the same activities as other children, but alternate activities with rest.
- Speak to your child’s teachers and school nurse. Ask about school services to help your child.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Ferri, Fred. Ferri’s Netter Patient Advisor. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders /
Elsevier, 2012. Print Edition. Page 945
Review Date: January 4, 2017 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017