Juvenile Arthritis: What You Should Know

July 18, 2019

Juvenile Arthritis (JA) is an umbrella term used to describe the many autoimmune and inflammatory conditions that can develop in children under the age of 16, and it affects nearly 300,000 children in the United States. Although the various types of JA share similar symptoms, like joint swelling, pain, redness and warmth, each one is distinct in the way it affects the body. Some forms can impact the musculoskeletal system, while others may affect the skin or gastrointestinal tract. The different types of JA include:

  • Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA)
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Juvenile dermatomyositis
  • Kawasaki disease
  • Juvenile lupus
  • Juvenile scleroderma
  • Mixed connective tissue disease

Knowing what symptoms and signs to look for can help you identify JA sooner and lead you toward properly treating the condition.

Juvenile Arthritis Symptoms

Some types of JA may have overlapping symptoms, while others have more distinct differences. For example, symptoms for fibromyalgia include, stiffness, aching, fatigue and disrupted sleep, but juvenile dermatomyositis can cause rashes to appear on the knuckles and eyelids, and lead to muscle weakness. In the early stages of JA, a child might start to complain about back, ankle, hip, knee, hand, foot or elbow pain. If you are noticing any unusual symptoms around joint pain and swelling in a child close to you, it’s important to seek medical help.


There is no known cause for JA, though some research points toward a genetic predisposition to JA. This means that the genes a child receives from his or her parents may increase the onset of JA when triggered by other factors. There is no evidence to suggest that food or allergies can lead to a child developing JA.


While there is no cure for JA, an early diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan can make living a normal life possible. The end goal of JA treatment is to relieve inflammation, control pain and improve the child’s quality of life. Among other methods, many treatment plans are centered around finding the right form of physical activity and eating a healthy diet.

Every diagnosis is different. If you think you’ve spotted the early stages of JA in a child you know, it’s important to contact a physician. Together, you can create the best treatment plan to help them live well and stay happy.


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