Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) a form of arthritis, is an auto immune disease that primarily affects joints in childeren below 16 years of age.It is a chronic inflammatory disorder that causes the deformation of the joints. Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is also known as juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) or Juvenile chronic arthritis.
JRA is classified into seven types. Firstly, Systemic JIA in which the whole body of the child is affected. Secondly Oligoarthritis which affects fewer joints. Polyarticular arthritis with rheumatoid factor negative and Polyarticular arthritis with rheumatoid factor positive forms the third and fourth types which affects girls and the one which is similar to rheumatoid arthritis in adults respectively. Next on the list is Psoriatic arthritis which is characterised by psoriatic rash in kids. Sixth type is Enthesitis- related arthritis which affects the lower regions from hip to toe and spine. The last category is the Undifferentiated arthritis, whose symptoms fits into more than one type or with none of the other categories.
JIA is a autoimmune disease, therefore one of the cause for the disease is auto antibodies affecting one’s own immune system. The exact causes of which are still not known completely, although various factors are believed to be the causes. Some of them are genes, hormones and environmental factors. Young girls are usually seen affected than the boys. Psychological stress can also be a cause of JIA.
Since JIA primarily affects joints, pain in joints and swelling are the most commonly noted symptoms. Redness around the affected joints and its stiffness that lasts more than half an hour in the morning are the other unavoidable symptoms. Loss of appetite,limping and tiredness are the other symptoms. Fatigue and flu-like symptoms along with the above said symptoms are to be considered. A form of eye disease uveitis, is seen in some forms of JIA
How to diagnose JIA?
A variety of tests are needed to diagnose JIA , as many symptoms show up for few days and then tend to vanish and also the exhibited symptoms mimic the symptoms associated with the various other illness. Imaging techniques such as X-ray and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the affected parts are performed . Ultrasound are also used for this purpose, Blood tests are carried out to detect the presence of rheumatoid factor.
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is not a curable disease, however the the symptoms exhibited by the patients can be treated. Treatments are available to reduce the pain,the inflammation, swelling or stiffness, enabling the patient to lead an active life. Disease progression can be slowed down by taking medications and strict monitoring of the results after regular tests. In the early phase of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, certain lifestyle changes such as regular physical exercise, ample rest, caring the joints , medications, eye and dental care, and healthy diet are recommended. In certain severe cases, physicians might suggest surgeries.