Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

Symptoms of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, or JRA, symptoms are characterized by inflammation of a young person's joints. It is caused by an autoimmune disease, which is a condition where the body's white blood cells cannot distinguish between healthy and harmful cells. Instead of protecting the body, the white blood cells release chemicals that damage the healthy cells and tissues.

There are three major types of JRA: polyarticular arthritis, pauciarticular JRA and systemic JRA.

Polyarticular arthritis is more prevalent in girls than boys. Its symptoms include swelling and pain in five or more joint areas. This discomfort can be found in the joints of the hands, knees, hips, ankles, feet and neck. A low-grade fever may go along with it, as well as bumps on the body formed from extensive sitting or leaning in one spot.

Pauciarticular juvenile rheumatoid arthritis involves swelling and pain in four or fewer joints. Stiffness, pain and swelling are all present, mostly in the knee and wrist joints. Inflammation of the iris (the colored area of the eye) is also a particularly odd symptom of this type of arthritis.

Systemic juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is found in the entire body. Symptoms are a high fever that spikes at night, rash, pale skin, enlargement of the spleen and lymph nodes, and swelling, pain and stiffness in all joints.

Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis Diagnosis and Treatment

If your doctor suspects that JRA is present in your child, he or she will probably run numerous tests. A complete blood count(CBC) will be administered, as well as blood cultures, a bone marrow examination, X-rays, bone scans and other tests, primarily looking for how high the rheumatoid factor is(an antibody found in the body, and sometimes higher in people with arthritis) and if the Antinuclear factor is present(test searching for autoimmunity levels).

Occasionally, your child's physician may perform an examination of the patient's joints and take samples of joint fluid or synovium (the lining of the joints) for testing.

To treat JRA, your child's doctor may prescribe one course of action or a combination of many. Treatment will most likely involve medication to diminish pain and/or swelling of the joints, physical therapy to get the child's body back up to speed, and exercise. If medication is found to be necessary, then the patient will be have to be watched closely and the dosage monitored, since there are many unsavory side effects.