6 Symptoms of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

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  • What Is Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis?

    What Is Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis?

    Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA), also called juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), affects children under the age of 16. Most forms of JRA are autoimmune. That means your body’s immune system mistakes your own cells for an infection, and attacks your body. This attack causes joint pain, swelling, and stiffness.

    With JRA, you might suffer a single attack, or the symptoms may last for years. If the symptoms linger for more than three months, the condition is considered chronic.

  • Types of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

    Types of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

    JRA comes in many types. Oligoarthritis, also called pauciarticular JRA, affects four or fewer joints in the first six months of illness. Polyarthritis, also called polyarticular JRA, is more widespread. It affects five or more joints in the first six months of illness. Systemic JRA affects the entire body, sometimes including internal organs such as the heart, liver, and spleen.

    Other types of JRA include: psoriatic arthritis, when psoriasis is present, and enthesitis-related arthritis, when a tendon, ligament, or joint capsule also becomes inflamed.

  • Arthritis Symptoms Can Flare Up

    Arthritis Symptoms Can Flare Up

    The symptoms of arthritis come and go in waves called flares. Between times of flares, symptoms go into remission. Symptoms become less severe or disappear entirely in remission. During a flare, symptoms worsen.

    JRA is different in everyone, so you may have just a few flares and then never have symptoms again. But on the other hand, you may experience frequent flares, or flares that never go away.

  • Joint Problems

    Joint Problems

    The most common symptom of JRA is joint pain. Joints may swell and grow tender. They can turn red and feel warm to the touch. Your joints can become stiff and lose their mobility. This results in a loss of fine dexterity, especially in your hands. Many people with JRA limp due to joint pain in their hips, knees, or ankles.

    Because of the pain and loss of mobility, you might find yourself becoming less physically active. If your arthritis persists for long enough, your joints eventually may become damaged.

  • Fatigue and Loss of Appetite

    Fatigue and Loss of Appetite

    The joint pain from arthritis can disrupt your sleep, causing you to feel tired. You might also lose your appetite, have trouble gaining weight as you grow, or even lose weight.

    Don’t let pain and fatigue spiral. Stay active to reset your body’s sleep cycle, and exercise to release endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers. Certain exercises can also strengthen the muscles to around your joints to support them, and diminish pain.

  • Uneven Growth

    Uneven Growth

    If arthritis persists, it can damage your joints. While you’re still growing, you have growth plates on the ends of your bones that allow them to get longer and stronger. Arthritis can distort these plates and the surrounding cartilage. This inhibits your growth or causes joints to grow at different rates. For example, one arm or leg might be longer or smaller than the other. Treating arthritis early can help protect against growth problems.

  • Eye Problems

    Eye Problems

    Inflammation from arthritis can spread to the eye, causing redness and eye pain. You might be particularly sensitive to bright light if you have eye pain. If the inflammation isn’t treated, it can permanently damage your eyes and cause vision problems.

    Often, inflammation is inside the eyeball instead of on the surface of the eye. This requires a slit lamp exam, a test to detect the inflammation.

  • Fever and Skin Rash

    Fever and Skin Rash

    In addition to these symptoms, you may experience a high fever and a light pink rash on your skin if you have systemic JRA. The rash most commonly appears on your chest, belly, back, hands, or feet. The rash and the fever appear together, and can come and go very suddenly.  

    A fever from JRA can spike above 103 degrees. Unlike a fever from a cold, it can last for weeks.

  • Swollen Lymph Nodes and Internal Organs

    Swollen Lymph Nodes and Internal Organs

    Along with fever and skin rash, systemic JRA can cause lymph nodes to swell up and become inflamed. Lymph nodes are small glands that act as your body’s filters. They’re found all over the body, including the corners of the jaw, the armpit, and inside the thigh.

    In less than half of cases of systemic JRA, the swelling can spread to the internal organs, affecting the heart, liver, and spleen. Very rarely, the lungs also become inflamed.

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