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Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA)

Home Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA)

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA)


JIA formerly known as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is the most common type of arthritis found in children under the age of 16.


When the body’s immune system attacks its own cells and tissues.  It is not known why this happens but both heredity and environment seems to play a role.  Some forms are more common in girls.


  • Pain – persistent joint pain. Child may complain of joint pain, may limp especially first thing in the morning or after a nap
  • Swelling – Joint swelling is common but first noticed in larger joints like the knee
  • Stiffness – You might notice clumsiness in the mornings of after naps
  • Fever – In some cases, high fever which can cause rash on the trunk and swollen lymph nodes.  These are usually worse in the evenings
  • Eye inflammation – Can lead to cataract, glaucoma and even blindness
  • Joint damage
  • Growth problems – bone development based on medication used


  • Helping to maintain a normal level of physical and social activity
  • Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) i.e. Ibuprofen, Advil Aspirin etc. reduce pain and swelling
  • Disease Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs (DMARDs) used alongside NSAIDs – used to slow the process of JIA
  • Biologic Agents i.e. Enbrel, Erelzi – help to reduce systemic inflammation and prevent joint damage
  • Corticosteroids – i.e. Prednisone – control symptoms until other medications take effect.  Used to treat inflammation when not in joints.  These can interfere with normal growth and increase  susceptibility to infection.  Should be used for the shortest possible duration.


  • Work with physical therapist to keep joints flexible and maintain range of motion and muscle tone
  • Recommendation from physical/occupational therapist regarding best exercise and protective  equipment for child
  • Use joint support or splints to help protect joints and keep them in good functional position

Lifestyle and home remedies

  • Get regular exercise especially swimming
  • Apply hot/cold treatment
  • Eat well – a  healthy diet to help maintain an appropriate body weight

Coping and Support

  • Treat child like other children in the family as much as possible
  • Allow child to express anger about illness
  • Encourage child to participate in physical activities
  • Discuss child’s condition/issues with school administration