Childhood arthritis

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Juvenile (childhood) arthritis
Classification and external resources
Specialty rheumatology
ICD-10 M08
ICD-9-CM 714.30

Childhood arthritis, also known as juvenile arthritis (JA), is any form of arthritis or arthritis-related conditions which affects individuals under the age of 16.[1] Juvenile arthritis is a chronic, autoimmune disease affecting approximately 294,000–250,000 children and teens making juvenile arthritis one of the most common childhood diseases in the US.[1][2] Three classifications of juvenile arthritis exist—juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA), juvenile chronic arthritis (JCA), and juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) of which, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is the most common.[3]

Three main types of JRA exist and classification is based upon symptoms, number of joints involved and the presence of antibodies in the blood.[1][2] 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.[1][2][3][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).[1][3] Oligoarticular (pauciarticular) arthritis can be early or late onset and is the second type of arthritis, affecting about 50% of children with juvenile arthritis.[1][2][3] 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).[1][2] Girls younger than eight are more likely to develop this type of arthritis.[2] Systemic is the final classification of JRA, where 10–20% of children (boys and girls equally) are affected with limited movement, swelling and pain in at least one joint.[1][3] A common symptom of this type of arthritis 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 also be visible.[1]

In most cases, juvenile arthritis is caused by the body attacking its own healthy cells and tissues causing the joint to become inflamed and stiff.[2] 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.[2] Early diagnosis and treatment by a paediatric rheumatologist or a rheumatologist can help manage inflammation, relieve pain, and prevent joint damage.[1][2] Careful examination, laboratory tests (blood and urine), and X-rays may be some of the tests conducted by a doctor.[1][2] The treatment of juvenile arthritis may include medications, therapy, splints and in severe cases surgery.[2] These treatments are focused on reducing swelling, relieving pain and maintaining full movement of joints.[1] Children are encouraged to be involved in extra-curricular activities, physical activity when possible, and to live a normal life.[1][4]


  1. ^ 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:
  2. ^ 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:
  3. ^ a b c d e Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011). Arthritis. Retrieved March 20, 2012, from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
  4. ^ a b American College of Rheumatology. (2011). Practice Management. Retrieved March 20, 2012, from American College of Rheumatology:

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