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Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

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Arthritis is not a condition that just strikes older people. It is a disease that can affect children and adolescents and turn into a chronic condition. When it affects young people, it is called as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.

What is Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammation of the joints that causes swelling, stiffness as well as restriction of the joints in the affected person. It usually strikes a person who is under the age of 16 years.

This is a chronic disease  that  affects any joints in the body. It is a type of autoimmune disease that can affect the child’s growth and development.

Types of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

There are 7 types of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. These are explained as follows:


The most common type of Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is oligoarthritis. It affects two-thirds of children and adolescents. It is a milder form that usually does not cause long-term damage to the joints. It is important to get regular eye checkups. The disease tends to affect vision and requires treatment.


The next most common type of juvenile arthritis is polyarthritis. It causes pain, swelling of the joints in the neck, jaw fingers, toes, wrists, ankles, hips and knees. The condition may cause fever and the symptoms may continue well into adulthood. However, there are chances of remission and the symptoms disappearing in later life.

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Extended oligoarthritis

This is a condition that develops as the milder oiligoarthritis. In a few months, more  than 5 joints are affected. The disease causes damage to the joints and requires treatment with methotrexate.

Enthesitis-related JIA

This disease affects bone tendons called enthuses leading to inflammation. It also causes acute uveitis, neck stiffness, as well as stiffness in the lower back.  

Psoriatic arthritis

This type of arthritis causes scaly skin rash. It affects the joints of fingers and toes. It causes eye inflammation, but is usually painless and does not cause redness of the eyes.

Systemic-onset juvenile idiopathic arthritis

This is one of the rarest type of juvenile idiopathic arthritis. It causes joint pain, fever, fatigue, loss of appetite as well as weight loss. The condition may also cause enlarged glands, spleen, liver. In some cases, it may cause inflammation of the heart, that is, pericarditis. It may take many years for the condition to reduce in severity.

Undifferentiated arthritis

When it is difficult to understand the type of arthritis, it is placed under the group undifferentiated arthritis.

Symptoms of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

Some of the symptoms of arthritis include:

Causes of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

There is no apparent cause that leads to this condition. The immune system starts attacking and destroying the synovium tissue. This tissue is present in the joints. When attacked, the synovium produces less of synovial fluid. Thus, leading to swelling, pain and stiffness. It may even lead to inflammation of the eye.

Diagnosis of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

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There is no specific test that indicates juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. However, the doctor may carry out blood tests, X-ray, MRI as well as ultrasound tests.

Treatment of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

Treatment helps in relieving pain, swelling as well as helping in increasing in joint mobility. Medications that help in relieving symptoms like:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Corticosteroids
  • Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
  • Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blockers
  • Immunosuppressants

Along with the drugs the doctor may recommend physiotherapy to maintain the joint movement and muscle tone. Also, splints or supports may be recommended. In some cases, surgery may be required if the joint position is affected.

Prognosis of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

Prognosis is usually good for many children. Treatment helps in improving the condition. Most children live a normal life. However, without treatment, the growth is affected as well as mobility is reduced. Thus, proper treatment will help in a better prognosis.

Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is a treatable and manageable condition. Seek medical help to overcome the pain, swelling and stiffness of joints.

Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: February 27, 2015