Do Children have Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, called JRA, is a type pf rheumatoid arthritis happened in children who are at the age of 16 or younger. It can cause joint inflammation and stiffness for more than six weeks. It affects approximately 50,000 children in the United States. Inflammation causes redness, swelling, warmth and soreness in the joints, associated with joint pain. Any of the joint can be affected, and inflammation will affect the mobility of affected joints.

JRA is kind of autoimmune disorder, which means that the body mistakenly identifies some of its own cells and tissues like foreign. The immune system begins to attack healthy cells and tissues. It results in inflammation.

But the exact reason why the immune system goes awry in children who develop JRA is not know now.  First, something in a child’s genetic makeup gives them a tendency to develop JRA. Then an environmental factor, such as a virus, triggers the development of JRA.

Although the exact reason is not clear so far, JRA will cause fever and anemia, and may affect the heart, lungs, eyes and nervous system. Arthritis episodes can last for several weeks and may recur, but the symptoms may tend to be less severe during later recurrent attacks. The treatment is similar to that for adults, with an additional heavy emphasis on physical therapy and exercise to keep growing bodies active. Many of the strong medicines for adults are usually needed for JRA. Permanent damage is now rare and most affected children recover from the disease fully without experiencing any lasting disabilities.

Doctors classify three kinds of JRA, based on the number of affected joints, the symptoms, and the presence of certain antibodies in the blood. The classification helps describe the progress of JRA. Pauciarticular means that four or fewer joints are involved, which is the most common form of JRA. About half of all children with JRA have this type. Girls under age 8 are most likely to develop this type of JRA. Polyarticular represents that 5 or more joints are involved. The small joint such as those in the hands and feet are most commonly affected. Polyarticular JRA is often symmetrical- it affects the same joints on both sides of the body. Some children with this type of JRA have a special kind of antibody in their blood called rheumatoid factor. These children have a more severe form of the disease, which doctors consider to be similar to adult rheumatoid arthritis. The third type pf JRA is systemic, along with joint swelling. It may also affect internal organs such as the heart, liver, spleen, and lymph nodes. Systemic JRA affect almost 20% of children with JRA.


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* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.