Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis or J.R.A. is basically rheumatoid arthritis in people of 16 years of age or younger.
Due to the fact that children have less developed immune systems, they cannot be given the same rheumatoid arthritis treatment that is given to adult patients and require a more delicate approach.
The long-term prognosis for patients with JRA is often better than for adult Rheumatoid Arthritis sufferers because the disease frequently goes into remission before adulthood without any serious aftermath.
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, like the adult arthritis, is conjectured to fall into the disease category of autoimmunity.
Autoimmune diseases are characterized by the body “turning on itself” and attacking its own cells, mistaking them for pathogens that need to be destroyed.
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis can belong in one of several designations:
- Pauciarticular juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is a form that affects only a couple of joints. Ankle, knee and hip joints are the most common sites.
- Polyarticular juvenile rheumatoid arthritis affects several joints both large and small and has the potential to develop into full-fledged RA.
The Systemic form may involve inflammation of the joints, development of a rash and/or fever and is the least frequently observed form of JRA. Several other health issues may trigger JRA-like symptoms such as a bone infection, lyme disease, IFB (inflammatory bowel disease) and several others.
Like adult RA, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis has several characteristic symptoms:
Stiff joints, particularly upon waking up in the mornings
Painful and/or swollen joints
Reduced range of motion and rotation
Joints that are warm to the touch and at times a red color may be observed
Limping or reduced use of extremities.