Juvenile arthritis is a disease in which there is inflammation (swelling) of the synovium in children aged 16 or younger. The synovium is the tissue that lines the inside of joints. Juvenile arthritis is an autoimmune disease.
Juvenile arthritis (JA) is not a disease in itself. Also known as pediatric rheumatic disease, JA is an umbrella term used to describe the many autoimmune and inflammatory conditions or pediatric rheumatic diseases that can develop in children under the age of 16.
There are different types of Juvenile Arthritis which include:
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA).
Mixed connective tissue disease.
No known cause has been pinpointed for most forms of juvenile arthritis.
Children with juvenile arthritis can have no symptoms at all. Symptoms may also vary depending on the type of arthritis. Symptoms of juvenile arthritis may include:
Joint stiffness, especially in the morning
Pain, swelling, and tenderness in the joints
Limping (In younger children, it may appear that the child is not able to perform motor skills he or she recently learned.)
Eye redness or eye pain
The most important step in properly treating juvenile arthritis is getting an accurate diagnosis. The diagnostic process can be long and detailed. There is no single blood test that confirms any type of JA. In children, the key to diagnosis is a careful physical exam, along with a thorough medical history. Any specific tests a doctor may perform will depend upon the type of JA suspected.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for juvenile arthritis, although with early diagnosis and aggressive treatment, remission is possible. The goal of treatment is to relieve inflammation, control pain and improve the child’s quality of life. Most treatment plans involve a combination of medication, physical activity, eye care and healthy eating.