Childhood arthritis

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Childhood arthritis
Other namesJuvenile arthritis

Childhood arthritis, is any form of chronic arthritis or chronic arthritis-related conditions which affects individuals under the age of 16. It is an autoimmune disease.

Signs and symptoms[edit]

Three types of juvenile arthritis exist—juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA), juvenile chronic arthritis (JCA), and juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), of which JRA is the most common.[1]

JRA again can be divided into three main forms: The classification is based upon symptoms, number of joints involved and the presence of certain antibodies in the blood.[2][3]

  1. Polyarticular arthritis is the first type of arthritis, which affects about 30–40% of children with arthritis and is more common in girls than boys.[2][3][1][4] Typically five or more joints are affected (usually smaller joints such as the hands and feet but many also affect the hips, neck, shoulders and jaw).[2][1]
  2. Oligoarticular (aka pauciarticular) arthritis can be early or late onset and is the second type of arthritis, affecting about 50% of children with juvenile arthritis.[2][3][1] This type affects fewer than four joints (usually the large joints such as knees, ankles or wrists) and may cause eye inflammation in girls with positive anti-nuclear antibodies (ANA).[2][3] Girls younger than eight are more likely to develop this type of arthritis.[3]
  3. Systemic disease is the least common form, with 10–20% of children (boys and girls equally) being affected with limited movement, swelling and pain in at least one joint.[2][1] A common symptom of this type is a high, spiking fever of 103 °F (39.4 °C) or higher, lasting for weeks or months, and a rash of pale red spots on the chest, thighs or other parts of the body may be visible.[2]


In most cases, juvenile arthritis is caused by the body attacking its own healthy cells and tissues, i.e. autoimmunity, causing the joint to become inflamed and stiff.[3] Once the joint has become inflamed and stiff, damage is done to the joint and the growth of the joint may by changed or impaired.[3]


Early diagnosis and treatment by a paediatric rheumatologist or a rheumatologist can help manage inflammation, relieve pain, and prevent joint damage.[2][3] Careful examination, laboratory tests (blood and urine), and various forms of imaging like X-rays may be some of the tests conducted by a doctor.[2][3]


Juvenile arthritis, also known as Childhood arthritis (JA) is any form of chronic arthritis or arthritis-related conditions which affects individuals under the age of 16.[2] Juvenile arthritis is a chronic autoimmune disease.[2]


The treatment of juvenile arthritis includes medications, physical therapy, splints and in severe cases surgery.[3] Methotrexate is commonly prescribed to children with juvenile arthritis.[5] These treatments are focused on reducing swelling, relieving pain and maintaining full movement of joints.[2] Children are encouraged to be involved in extra-curricular activities, physical activity when possible, and to live a "normal" life.[2][4]


In the US it affects about 250,000-294,000 children making it one of the most common childhood diseases.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d e Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011). Arthritis. Retrieved March 20, 2012, from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Arthritis Foundation. (2012). Juvenile Arthritis Face Sheet. Retrieved March 21, 2012, from Arthritis Foundation: "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-03-07. Retrieved 2012-03-22.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. (2012). Orthoinfo. Retrieved March 21, 2012, from American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons:
  4. ^ a b American College of Rheumatology. (2011). Practice Management. Retrieved March 20, 2012, from American College of Rheumatology:
  5. ^ Takken, Tim; van der Net, Janjaap J; Helders, Paul PJM (2001-10-23). "Methotrexate for treating juvenile idiopathic arthritis". Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. doi:10.1002/14651858.cd003129. ISSN 1465-1858. PMC 7017300.

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