Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

Published by Steve Hedberg on July 2, 2009 Under arthritis

Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis(JRA), or simply Juvenile Arthritis, is one type of arthritis that is found in children and young adults, with more than 300,000 children being affected by the disease every year.

Typically, Juvenile Arthritis is defined as joint discomfort, stiffness, or inflammation that is found in a child under the age of 17 and persists for at least a month and a half (6 weeks.)

Getting the Name Right

The use of Rheumatoid Arthritis can be a little misleading, because Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis is not the same as Adult Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Some texts and doctors instead choose to refer to the disease as Juvenile Chronic Arthritis (JCA,) Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA,) or simply Juvenile Arthritis (JA.) No matter what it is called, it is important to remember that the name refers to the symptoms and characteristics, but not a specific type of arthritis.

Diagnosing Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

It can often be very difficult to diagnose Juvenile Arthritis, because many children will not complain about the pain or discomfort they are feeling. As a result, it is essential to watch carefully for signs that juvenile arthritis is present. For example, excessive fatigue or lack of appetite are two common symptoms of Juvenile Arthritis. It is also common for the child to not want to play or be as active, some will also develop a limp. If symptoms are present it is important to discuss them with a pediatrician, because quick diagnosis is essential to prevent disability or more serious risks.

Different Types of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis is typically broken down into three different groups, namely pauciarticular, polyarticular, or systemic arthritis.

Pauciarticular Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

Pauciarticular Juvenile Rheumatoid arthritis accounts for about half of all cases of JRA. In Pauciarticular JRA, four or less joints are affected by arthritic symptoms. Pauciarticular JRA is divided further by the time frame in which the arthritis developed. It is classified as either Early Onset or Late Onset.

Early Onset Pauciarticular JRA is usually developed before the age of 5 and is much more common among girls, who are four times more likely to develop this type of arthritis. Eye inflammation is one common symptom of this type of JRA.

Late Onset Pauciarticular JRA, on the other hand, is more likely to occur in boys. Late Onset JRA is more likely to affect larger joints and if eye infection does occur, it is not typically chronic. Among those who develop Late Onset Pauciarticular JRA, a common gene, HLA-B27, is found in about half of all patients.

Polyarticular Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

Polyarticular JRA is Juvenille Rheumatoid Arthritis that affects at least five or more joints. This type of JRA accounts for about 30 to 40 of all reported cases of JRA.

Typically smaller joints are more likely to be affected by Polyarticular JRA, but it is also possible for bigger joints to become infected. Polyarticular JRA is about three times more likely to occur in a girl and is divided into two groups that describe whether rheumatoid symptoms are present.

In most cases of Polyarticular JRA where rheumatoid factors are present, the child is female and over eight years old. The symptoms also develop symmetrically, in that both sides of the body are affected, and typically are much more severe than adult rheumatoid arthritis. A common gene, HLA-DR4, is found in most cases.

Systemic Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

Systemic Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis is also sometimes called Still’s disease and is equally likely to affect males and females. This type of JRA usually develops between the age of 1 and 6, with a number of children developing rashes and fever. Systemic Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis can cause damage to other organs in some instances.

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