What is juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA)?
"Juvenile" refers to young people, usually those under the age of 16.
"Idiopathic" means that the cause of a disease or condition is not known.
"Arthritis" is when one or more of your joints are inflamed—they hurt, swell up, and turn red. There are many different types of arthritis.
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis is a rare kind of arthritis that children can get and that does not have a known cause
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis happens when a child's immune system Overview of the Immune System The immune system is your body's defense system. It helps protect you from illness and infection. The immune system's job is to attack things that don’t belong in your body, including: Germs... read more attacks the joints. It's similar to rheumatoid arthritis Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Arthritis is a group of diseases that makes your joints hurt, swell up, and turn red. There are many different types of arthritis. RA is a type of arthritis in which your body's immune system... read more in adults.
A few or many joints become painful and swollen
Other parts of the body may be affected
Symptoms may come and go
Doctors can tell if a child has JIA based on symptoms, x-rays, and blood tests
Treatments can include medicines and exercise
There are 6 forms of JIA, which vary by which joints are involved, how many joints are involved, and whether your child has other symptoms.
What causes JIA?
JIA is an autoimmune disease Autoimmune Diseases The immune system is your body's defense system. It helps protect you from illness and infection. The immune system usually attacks invading bacteria, viruses, and cancer cells. With an autoimmune... read more . The immune system is part of your body's defense system, which helps protect you from illness and infection. In an autoimmune disease, your immune system attacks parts of your own body by mistake—in JIA, a child's immune system attacks joints and sometimes other parts of the child's body. Doctors don't know exactly what causes your child's immune system to attack the joints.
What are the symptoms of JIA?
Symptoms may come and go. Some symptoms involve the joints. Other symptoms involve the rest of the body. Children with JIA do not all have the same symptoms. Some have a few mild symptoms, others have many severe symptoms.
Joint symptoms may involve a few or many joints, and include:
Pain and swelling
Joints feeling warm to the touch
Stiff joints, particularly in the morning
Symptoms that affect the rest of the body can include:
Blurry vision, and rarely painful, red eyes, and difficulty looking at bright lights
A patchy skin rash that does not itch
In the most severe form of JIA, swollen lymph nodes, spleen, and liver
Sometimes pain and irritation (inflammation) of the lining of the lungs and heart
What are the complications of JIA?
Children with severe JIA may not grow normally:
One arm or leg may be longer or shorter than the other
If JIA affects the jawbone, your child's chin may look too small
How can doctors tell if my child has JIA?
There is no specific test for JIA. The doctor will likely look at:
Your child's symptoms
Certain blood tests
Even if your child has no eye symptoms, an eye doctor should examine your child’s eyes to look for inflammation in parts of the eye.
How do doctors treat JIA?
There is no cure for JIA, but treatment can make children feel better and help them function normally. Some newer arthritis medicines Treatment Juvenile idiopathic arthritis is a group of related childhood diseases that begin by age 16 and involve persistent or recurring inflammation of the joints. Certain forms of juvenile idiopathic... read more may also help prevent complications, such as joint deformity and poor growth.
Doctors treat JIA with:
Medicines that reduce pain and swelling
Sometimes, shots of a medicine into a joint
Eye drops if your child’s eyes are affected
Doctors may also suggest:
Physical therapy and exercises
Sometimes, splints to keep your child’s joints straight
An eye examination several times a year