Juvenile inflammatory arthritis (JIA), also referred to as juvenile idiopathic arthritis, is a joint disease that affects children and teens age 16 or under. The most common juvenile inflammatory arthritis symptoms include prolonged stiffness and inflammation of the joints. Although these sorts of symptoms are common for active people from time to time as a result of stress and overuse, they would normally go away after a short period of time with rest and proper care. When such symptoms last for longer than six weeks, however, it is likely a sign of arthritis.
In the past, JIA was referred to as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. However, it is a completely different disease than the rheumatoid arthritis seen in adults and thus the name “juvenile rheumatoid arthritis” is no longer used. JIA is not always chronic (permanent) like adult rheumatoid arthritis, although certain types of juvenile inflammatory arthritis, such as psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis, can be. JIA can affect the way bones grow and the function of the joints.
Types of Juvenile Inflammatory Arthritis
Juvenile Inflammatory Arthritis can be categorized based on the duration of the symptoms, which symptoms are present, the presence of certain immune-based antibodies, and which and how many joints are involved.
Causes of Juvenile Inflammatory Arthritis
There are many juvenile inflammatory arthritis causes. It is considered a multifactorial condition involving both environmental factors and genetic traits from both parents. Since the disease is caused in part by recurring genes in the family, it may be more prevalent in one gender than the other.
The most commonly known juvenile inflammatory arthritis causes are a group of genes that produce specific antigens which influence the development of certain diseases and autoimmune disorders, such as arthritis. Although the presence of the HLA antigen makes the development of juvenile arthritis more likely, particularly in girls, it does not necessarily guarantee that the disease will develop. As such, testing for this antigen cannot ensure accurate prediction or diagnosis of the condition in children.
Symptoms of Juvenile Inflammatory Arthritis
Juvenile inflammatory arthritis symptoms vary greatly depending on the type of arthritis, and whether it is episodic or chronic. Some children may only have flare-ups when their symptoms appear, and other children may have ongoing (chronic) symptoms. These are generally the most common juvenile inflammatory arthritis symptoms:
Since the juvenile inflammatory arthritis symptoms vary so greatly and are often very similar to the symptoms of other conditions, it is important to seek medical treatment for an accurate diagnosis. A physician can analyze the child’s complete medical and prenatal history, perform a physical exam, discuss the symptoms, conduct laboratory tests, and/or take X-ray images to accurately diagnose the disease and develop a plan for treatment. The treatment options will vary depending on the type and severity of the condition as well as the child’s individual physical health and medical history. There are many different medications and therapies available, and with ongoing medical care it’s quite possible to live a normal life after developing this disease.