What is Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis?

Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA), as the name indicates, is a group of chronic inflammatory arthritis affecting young children aged less than 16 years old. Previously, JIA was also known to be Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA). JIA is a form of autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks its own cells and tissues. The exact cause of it is unknown but both genetic and environmental factors may play a role in triggering off the disease.
There are several different subtypes of juvenile idiopathic arthritis as the followings:
  • Systemic
  • Oligoarticular
  • Polyarticular

What are the symptoms of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis?

The symptoms these young children may have including joint swelling, joint pain and joint stiffness especially in the morning. Sometime these children may not complain of joint pain but they may be more clumsy in the morning or walk with a limp in the morning. The systemic form of JIA may have fever, swollen lymph nodes, rash, loss of appetite etc.
Which subtype the children have will depend on the numbers of joint involved as well as the presence of systemic symptoms such as fever and rashes.

What are the treatments available for Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis?

The main treatment goal is to prevent complications such as bone growth, joint deformity that can affect the child’s growth, to detect other complications early such as eye inflammations to prevent glaucoma, cataract or even blindness.
There are many treatment options available, from conventional Disease Modifying Anti Rheumatic Drugs (DMARDS) to newer biologics such as anti-TNF, anti IL-6 and anti IL-1. Choices of treatment will depend on the subtypes, severity as well as initial response to treatment.

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