Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis Facts

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Rheumatoid arthritisis be a painful condition. It can strike children and infants  and not just the elderly, as commonly thought. The numbers tell a sad story. As many as 50,000 children in the US alone, suffer from juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. This is also referred to as JRA or idiopathic arthritis. 

Rheumatoid arthritis is caused when the body’s own natural immunity becomes the enemy. The white blood cells attack the joints and the adjoining tissues mistakingly believing them under attack from outside sources. In the process destroying healthy cells and tissue, it is therefore classified as an autoimmune disease.

Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis disease can be further classified into various types.

Polyarticular Arthritis: As many as five joints in the body are affected and resulting in pain and swelling. Interestingly, more girls than boys suffer from this type. Areas of the body that are affected include the joints of the neck, feet, ankles, hips, knees and even the hands. The disease also comes with small bumps and a slight fever.

Pauciarticular Arthritis: This type of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis also comes with pain and swelling. It affects four joints – usually it is the wrist and the knee area that can be the problem. The condition can  also cause symptoms in the eye and it is referred to as uveitis, iritis or iridocyclitis.

Systemic Arthritis: Can cause a high fever that tends to rapidly fluctuate, this type of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis can strike almost anywhere in the body. Since the fever rises so quickly, the affected person can feel extremely ill and weak. It can be accompanied by rashes, that too come and go.. There is of course the pain, stiffness and swelling.

Some sufferers experience psychological and emotional problems. Depression and anxiety are not uncommon. Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis can also lead to other diseases like scleroderma and systemic lupus erythematosus. There have been rare instances of fatality from juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.

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