Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA)—also known as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis—is a condition that occurs when the immune system causes inflammation in the lining of the joints. This inflammation leads to chronic joint swelling and damage.
JIA is the most common type of arthritis in children under the age of 17. About one in every 1,000 children have some form of JIA, so there are many more common causes of pain in children than JIA. Pain without swelling is often from a cause other than inflammation.
Symptoms of JIA include:
Some children have JIA symptoms for only a couple of months, while others may have symptoms that return throughout their lives.
For the pediatric rheumatologist to make an accurate diagnosis of JIA, your child must have consistent symptoms for at least six weeks with no other physical cause(s). This is because JIA cannot be diagnosed using blood tests, biopsies or X-rays—the diagnosis is based only on the symptoms and a physical exam.
However, the pediatric rheumatologist may also want to run certain blood tests to determine if your child has other conditions that often can look like JIA. These tests may include:
Your child’s doctor will also likely run tests to check for other conditions that can appear to be JIA (such as Lyme disease or celiac disease), so they can be eliminated from the list of possible diagnoses.
Treatment for JIA aims to control pain, improve function and prevent long-term joint damage. Doctors at Riley at IU Health may treat JIA with one or more of the following:
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