Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

What is Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is the most common form of arthritis in those under the age of 17. This disorder causes extremely unpleasant symptoms in the joint. Many children only suffer from the symptoms for a few months, but others experience symptoms for their entire lives.

Medications can reduce the symptoms, or completely alleviate the symptoms completely.

A few types of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis cause serious complications.

What are the Symptoms of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis?

The most common symptoms of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis are:

  • Pain in and around joints. The pain is usually more noticeable in the morning.
  • Swelling – Usually in larger joints.
  • Stiffness – Your child may appear to be more clumsy. This is usually worse in the morning.

The symptoms can be noticeable in one joint, or all of the joints. It is possible for juvenile rheumatoid arthritis to affect the entire body. In this case, your child may experience the following:

  • Inflamed lymph nodes
  • Unexplained rashes
  • Fever

Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis has times where symptoms appear, and then disappear for a period of time.

Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis Causes

Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is a condition occurring when a young person’s immune system starts attacking their cells and tissues. The specific cause has not been pinned down; however, both environmental and hereditary cause are prime suspects. Specific gene mutations can possibly cause a person to be more susceptible to negative environmental factors, like viruses, that can cause juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. The mysteriousness surrounding juvenile rheumatoid arthritis can make it difficult to diagnose, as joint pain might potentially be caused by injuries or other kinds of problems. Additionally, there is not a specific test to detect the disorder or confirm a diagnosis; however, tests may help to rule out possible culprits producing similar symptoms.

How is Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis Treated?

Treatment for juvenile-rheumatoid-arthritis mainly focuses on assisting the child in maintaining a normal level of activity for their age. Your child’s doctor may use a combination of treatment sot ensure that your child does not have pain, swelling, or decreased range of motion. The doctor may also focus on maintaining strength, and prevention of complications during flares.

Possible complications included growth problems and inflammation under the eye.

Some children only require a pain relieving medication in order to handle the condition. However, other children require medications that are specifically designed for rheumatoid arthritis. The medications that are available to treat this condition are:

Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs – Used to relieve pain and swelling in many different disorders. They have proven to be extremely helpful in treating juvenile-rheumatoid-arthritis.

Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs – These medications are used when NSAIDs do not relieve the swelling and pain associated with the disorder. The most commonly used medications in children are methotrexate and sulfasalazide.

Immune suppressants – Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by an overactive immune system. Because of this, taking medications that suppress this response can help dramatically.

Corticosteroids – These medications can help to keep symptoms under control.

Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis Prevention

Many common blood tests which are involved in detecting suspected cases of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and in preventing its progression include the following:

  • Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR). The sedimentation rate tells the doctor the speed at which red blood cells collect at the bottom of a vial of blood; elevated rates can indicate inflammation. By measuring the ESR, doctors can rule out other conditions, in order to diagnose juvenile rheumatoid arthritis as well as the degree of inflammation.
  • C-reactive protein blood tests also measure general levels inflammation but on a different scale from ESR.
  • The anti-nuclear antibody is a protein typically produced by the immune system of a person with particular autoimmune diseases, such as arthritis.
  • Rheumatoid factor tests search for this antibody, which is typically found in the blood of young people with rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Cyclic citrullinated peptide (CCP) similar to rheumatoid factor, is an antibody that can be found in bodies of young people with rheumatoid arthritis.

Imaging scans

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and x-rays can be undertaken to exclude conditions which cause similar symptoms and thus help diagnose and prevent the progression of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. The conditions to be ruled out include:

  • Fractures
  • Congenital defects
  • Tumors
  • Infection
Last Reviewed:
October 06, 2016
Last Updated:
March 14, 2018