Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA) is the most common form of arthritis in children. It affects children before the age of 16 and may be a mild condition that causes few problems; or become a chronic condition that causes inflammation in one or more joints.

There are three types of Juvenile arthritis; each with their own set of symptoms. However, the most common symptoms of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis include joint inflammation; joint contracture (stiff, bent joint); or joint damage including alteration or change in growth.

Many children with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis suffer from joint stiffness; particularly following rest or decreased activity. Others suffer from weakness in the muscles and soft tissue around arthritic joints.

TMany children with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis suffer from joint stiffness; particularly following rest or decreased activity. Others suffer from weakness in the muscles and soft tissue around arthritic joints.

Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis is classified into three types. The type is typically determined based on the symptoms displayed by the child during the first six month of illness. These classifications are based on the number of joints involved, the symptoms, and the presence or absence of certain antibodies. Systemic onset type [SIS-tim-ik]: This type of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis is characterized by fever and a light skin rash.

Occasionally, Systemic onset type affects the internal organs including the heart, liver, spleen, and lymph nodes. Systemic accounts for 20 percent of all Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis cases. Symptoms include fever, rash, swelling, inflammation and pain in or around the joints..

Pauciarticular onset disease [PAW-see-are-TICK-you-lar]: This type of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis is the most common form and affects about 50 percent of all children with arthritis. Pauciarticular onset disease typically affects the larger joints such as knees and elbows. It generally develops in girls under the age of eight. Symptoms include swelling, inflammation, and pain. Pauciarticular means that four or fewer joints are affected.

FOf particular importance is the fact that Pauciarticular onset disease causes eye disease in approximately 30 percent of children diagnosed with this type or JRA. Regular eye exams by a qualified ophthalmologist are of the utmost importance.

Polyarticular disease [PAUL-e-are-TICK-you-lar]: This type of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis develops in about 30 percent of all with JRA. Polyarticular tends to affect the small joints, such as those in the hands and feet. Oftentimes, Polyarticular will affect the same joint on both sides of the body. Symptoms of Polyarticular include swelling, inflammation or pain affecting five or more joints.