We spoke with Aarat M. Patel, MD, who specializes in adult and pediatric rheumatology, to learn more about the signs and symptoms of juvenile arthritis as well as what parents should know about it.
What is juvenile arthritis?
Juvenile arthritis (JIA) is a disease that causes joint inflammation.
There are several types of juvenile arthritis:
- Oligoarticular JIA, which involves fewer than five joints, affects about half of all children with arthritis. Those who develop the oligoarticular form of JIA when they are younger than 7 years old have the best chance of having their joint disease resolve over time with treatment.
- Polyarticular JIA affects five or more joints and can begin at any age. Those who are diagnosed with this type in their teens may actually have the adult form of rheumatoid arthritis.
- Systemic JIA affects about 10 percent of children with arthritis and can include repeating fevers as well as an inflammatory rash.
In addition, there is a form of arthritis that comes with psoriasis as well as a form that will cause inflammation of the spine. It is called spondyloarthriits or enthesitis-related arthritis.
What are early signs and symptoms of juvenile arthritis?
Most children will have joint swelling and stiffness. This stiffness is most prominent in the morning. There is joint pain as well, but some children will only have pain when the arthritis is severe. And again, systemic juvenile arthritis will come with daily fevers and rashes.
Is there a cure? If not, what are treatment options?
Sadly, there is currently no cure for juvenile arthritis. The overall treatment goal is to control symptoms, prevent joint damage and maintain function. Treatment options range from something simple like non-steroidal medications to aggressive treatments with immunosuppressants based on severity of disease.
What should parents do?
If you suspect a joint issue, discuss this with your child’s pediatrician and they will most likely refer you to a pediatric rheumatologist if they are worried about juvenile arthritis. A pediatric rheumatologist will then evaluate your child and treat as required to prevent any joint damage so the child can live a normal, healthy life. Remission in juvenile arthritis is always the goal.
Learn more about the pediatric rheumatology services Bon Secours offers.