Juvenile idiopathic arthritis
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) is a term used to describe a group of disorders in children that includes arthritis. They are long-term (chronic) diseases that cause joint pain and swelling.
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA); Juvenile chronic polyarthritis; Still disease; Juvenile spondyloarthritis
The cause of JIA is not known. It is thought to be an autoimmune illness. This means the body attacks and destroys healthy body tissue by mistake.
JIA most often develops before age 16. Symptoms may start as early as 6 months old.
There are several types of JIA:
Symptoms of JIA may include:
JIA can also cause eye problems called uveitis, iridocyclitis, or iritis. There may be no symptoms. When eye symptoms occur, they can include:
Exams and Tests
The physical exam may show swollen, warm, and tender joints that hurt to move. The child may have a rash. Other signs include:
Blood tests may include:
Any or all of these blood tests may be normal in children with JIA.
The health care provider may place a small needle into a swollen joint to remove fluid. This can help to find the cause of the arthritis. It can also help relieve pain. The provider may inject steroids into the joint to help reduce swelling.
Other tests that may be done include:
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen may be enough to control symptoms when only a small number of joints are involved.
Corticosteroids may be used for more severe flare-ups to help control symptoms.
Children who have arthritis in many joints, or who have fever, rash, and swollen glands may need other medicines. These are called disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). They can help reduce swelling in the joints or body. DMARDs include:
Children with JIA need to stay active.
Exercise will help keep their muscles and joints strong and mobile.
Children who have sadness or anger about their arthritis may need extra support.
Some children with JIA may need surgery, including joint replacement.
Children with only a few affected joints may have no symptoms for a long period.
In many children, the disease will become inactive and cause very little joint damage.
The severity of the disease depends on the number of affected joints. It is less likely that symptoms will go away in these cases. These children more often have long-term (chronic) pain, disability, and problems at school. Some children may continue to have arthritis as adults.
Complications may include:
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your provider if:
There is no known prevention for JIA.
Beukelman T, Patkar NM, Saag KG, et al. 2011 American College of Rheumatology recommendations for the treatment of juvenile idiopathic arthritis: initiation and safety monitoring of therapeutic agents for the treatment of arthritis and systemic features. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2011;63(4):465-482. PMID: 21452260 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21452260.
Long AR, Rouster-Stevens KA. The role of exercise therapy in the management of juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2010;22(2):213-217. PMID: 20010296 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20010296.
Nordal E, Rygg M, Fasth A. Clinical features of juvenile idiopathic arthritis. In: Hochberg MC, Silman AJ, Smolen JS, Weinblatt ME, Weisman MH, eds. Rheumatolgy. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2015:chap 101.
Prince FH, Otten MH, van Suijlekom-Smit LW. Diagnosis and management of juvenile idiopathic arthritis. BMJ. 2010;341:c6434. PMID: 21131338 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21131338.
Wu EY, Bryan AR, Rabinovich CE. Juvenile idiopathic arthritis. In: Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St. Geme JW, Schor NF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 155.
Review Date: 4/24/2017
Reviewed By: Gordon A. Starkebaum, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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