Want to know more about juvenile rheumatoid arthritis?

We asked the National Institutes of Health for some answers to our questions

We know: Facts on Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

What is Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA) is a chronic, inflammatory disease resulting in joint pain and inflammation. It may result in joint damage. It usually occurs before age 16.

What are the causes, incidents and risk factors of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis?

JRA is a general term for the most common types of arthritis in children. It is divided in to several categories:

  1. Systemic JRA: This form, which occurs in about 10% of cases, involves joint pain and swelling as well as fevers and rash. It is similar to Adult Still's Disease. The cause of this form of JRA is unknown.
  2. Polyarticular JRA: This form occurs in about 40% of cases and involves multiple joints that are painful and swollen. The cause of this form of JRA is unknown. Some children may have a positive Rheumatoid Factor and evolve into Rheumatoid Arthritis.
  3. Pauciarticular JRA: This form occurs in about 50% of cases and involves only a few joints. Some of these children, in particular boys, will be HLA-B27 positive. Families with HLA-B27 are at increased risk for this arthritis.

What are the symptoms of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis?

  • joint stiffness on arising in the morning
  • limited range of motion
  • slow rate of growth or uneven arm or leg growth
  • hot, swollen, painful joints
  • a child may stop using an affected limb
  • back pain

Systemic JRA symptoms:

  • Fever, usually high fevers every day
  • Rash that comes and goes with the fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes (glands)

JRA can also cause eye inflammation. These symptoms include:

  • red eyes
  • eye pain
  • photophobia (increased pain when looking at a light)
  • visual changes

What treatments are available for Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis?

The goal is to preserve mobility and joint function and support the patient and family through a long chronic illness.

Therapeutic medications include:

  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDS)
  • corticosteroids
  • topical ophthalmic corticosteroids
  • hydroxychloroquine
  • immune suppressing agents, including methotrexate and new biologic medications like infliximab and etanercept.

Always talk to your health care provider before giving aspirin or NSAIDS to children.

Physical therapy and exercise programs may be recommended. Surgical procedures may be indicated, including joint replacement.

Is there any way to prevent Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis?

There is no known prevention for JRA.

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