juvenile arthritis
Health,  parenting

Juvenile Arthritis – What it Is and What it Does #health


juvenile arthritis

This is the ankle that started it all for us. One of our daughters has had a limp for months and we’ve taken her to the doctor several times. We’ve determined nothing is broken or sprained. So we went to the hospital and had tests run last month. Numerous X-Rays showed nothing broken at all. But she limps and it isn’t getting better. So we are now moving on to more tests. Juvenile arthritis is one diagnosis specialists are looking at. This month we return to see if high doses of anti-inflammatory medicine have made a difference.

This is what I have learned while we wait.

Juvenile Arthritis – What it is. What it Does.

Juvenile arthritis is not actually one particular disease. Instead, it’s a term used to encompass several autoimmune and inflammatory conditions and pediatric rheumatic diseases which can occur in children aged 16 or younger. In a group I just joined on Facebook there are many parents with children as young as 2 who have been diagnosed. This is a diagnosis that doesn’t seem to care how young you are.

What is Juvenile Arthritis

Juvenile arthritis is a general term used to describe several different conditions which affect young children. While all of the different juvenile arthritis conditions involve pain and joint swelling, redness, and warmth, each type is unique and has its own symptoms and concerns for the patient. Although juvenile arthritis sounds like it would be a joint issue, some types of this disease can involve the eyes, skin, muscles, and even the GI tract.

Types of Juvenile Arthritis

Unfortunately, there are several types of this condition affecting children. Each type is unique, but all of them are painful conditions.

  • Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis: JIA is the most common form of the disease, and it includes six subtypes. They are oligoarthritis, polyarthritis, systemic, enthesitis-related, juvenile psoriatic arthritis, and undifferentiated.
  • Juvenile Dermatomyositis: An inflammatory type of juvenile arthritis, it causes muscle weakness and a skin rash on the eyelids and knuckles.
  • Juvenile Lupus: The most common form of this autoimmune disease is systemic lupus erythematosus. It can affect the joints, skin, kidneys, blood, and several other areas of the body.
  • Juvenile Scleroderma: Scleroderma means “hard skin” and it describes a group of conditions causing patients’ skin to tighten and harden.
  • Kawasaki Disease: This form of juvenile arthritis causes blood vessel inflammation which can lead to heart complications.
  • Mixed Connective Tissue Disease: This may include a variety of symptoms from different subtypes of juvenile arthritis. These can include the symptoms of arthritis, lupus dermatomyositits, and scleroderma. It’s associated with an extremely high concentration of an antinuclear antibody called anti-RNP.
  • Fibromyalgia: This is a chronic pain condition which can cause stiffness and aching along with fatigue, disrupted sleep, and a variety of other symptoms. It’s most common in girls and rarely diagnosed before puberty.


While there has been no hard and fast cause found for juvenile arthritis, there is no evidence suggesting that toxins, foods, or allergies cause this disease. Some research has made a connection to a genetic predisposition for juvenile arthritis, suggesting that the right combination of genes passed down from the parents combined with other unknown factors my cause the onset of juvenile arthritis.


Each type of juvenile arthritis is unique and presents with its own specific signs and symptoms. While they all have their own symptoms, some of most commonly seen symptoms can be joint swelling, pain, inflammation, redness, and heat. These are only those symptoms that are common to the largest percentage of the different types of juvenile arthritis, each subtype has additional symptoms and signs.


The absolute most important step in treating juvenile arthritis is an accurate diagnosis. This is a long, detailed process which requires a variety of approaches to ensure proper diagnosis. Unlike many other diseases, you can’t just walk in and have a blood test. Diagnosing juvenile arthritis requires a thorough physical exam and investigation of the patient’s medical history. Specific tests for specific types of the disease will follow after a diagnosis of juvenile arthritis.


There is no cure for juvenile arthritis. It can be managed and even put into remission with early diagnosis and aggressive treatment, though. Treatment goals are to relieve inflammation, control pain, and improve the affected child’s quality of life. Treatment plans typically involve a combination of medicines, exercise, eye care, and healthy eating to promote a lessening of symptoms.

Juvenile Arthritis – Know the Signs

Juvenile arthritis is serious business. If your child is showing any combination of signs of joint pain, inflammation, redness, irritation, and lethargy, get them to the doctor. Early diagnosis is the first step to managing juvenile arthritis.

We don’t yet know if this is exactly what is causing my daughter’s limp. We have some string suspicions but there are more specialists scheduled to be seen. And in the meantime, one silver lining from the process has resulted. My daughter has never been able to take pills orally. She has always had difficultly with that and often received medication in liquid format. In the last month she has become a real trouper at taking the medicine prescribed.

Mom of two beautiful active girls, traveller, fitness junkie, social media consultant, and keeper of the sanity.


  • Uplifting Families

    I am so sorry that your daughter is experiencing this awful disease. Hopefully, your team of doctors can find a solution to help her. I have fibromyalgia and its so hard. I am constantly hurting and it doesn’t get any better.

  • Marnie G (Derrick Todd)

    That is too bad that you and your daughter are going through that. It can be tough. My kids and I suffer from Ehler’s Danlos Syndrome which also effects the joints. It can be a real struggle at times. Early diagnosis is key so that you can prevent further deterioration.

  • Judy maharrey

    This is a big issue with children, and parents have to be persistent to get the right diagnosis. When I was younger, I saw a small girl in a wheelchair, and I wondered what was wrong. Her fingers were twisted and swollel, and her legs swollen. Her mother told me she had juvenile arthritis. My husband suffered from this when he was in his younger age, about 10, he was diagnosed. He had several hospital stays, I think because he would not take the meds prescribed.

  • Sue M.

    I’m so sorry your daughter is having to deal with such a painful illness. I hope the doctors will be able to find out for sure what is causing it and can treat it so she starts to feel better soon!

  • Angelica

    I’m so sorry your daughter is having to go through this, especially so young. I hope that it’s Fibro and not one of the inflammatory arthritis conditions. Not that Fibro is a walk in the park but it can stop progressing and it won’t affect her organs. I’ve had chronic joint and pain since I was a kid but I didn’t have full blown disease until I was in my mid twenties, I can’t imagine having the problems I have now ten years sooner. She will be a stronger and braver woman for dealing with this, it will make her even more beautiful than she is now. Hoping for the best results possible!

  • lisa

    That’s awful. As we age, we expect our bodies to give us trouble. It’s always sad when a young person has trouble.

  • Tiffanie Hope

    I have a friend of mine who was fibro, and she’s a big inspiration. She never lets the disease get the best of her!

  • Gail Williams

    I am so sorry for your daughter. I hope she gets as much relief as possible. May she have as normal a childhood as she can.

  • Gabrielle

    I wish the very best for your daughter. A friend of mine in grade school had arthritis.

  • Kristin K

    I developed arthritis in my knee when I was 16…and know how painful it can be. Some days are better than others. I do know when it’s going to rain, or when cold weather is approaching…due to the significant ache I feel! In my 30’s, I was diagnosed with Chronic Pain and Fibromyalgia. But, the meds I take help a little.

  • Fee Roberts

    My ex husband had something like this when he was a teenager. His mother had to wrap hot towels around his knees and ankles to relieve the pain and swelling. It has only gotten worse as he’s gotten older.

  • Dorothy Boucher

    I am so sorry to hear about your daughter or anyone with this. Its sad that they have to have something like this in the first place.. I shall keep her and you all in my prayers, I do hope they can find a cure soon..

  • Deborah Caudill

    Thank you for the informative article on Juvenile Arthritis. I did not know that the name included so many different diseases. I am sorry to learn that your daughter may have JA and that she has been suffering with pain in her ankle. I know how hard it can be to wait on a diagnosis. Good luck to her.

  • Lisa Coomer Queen

    I hate that your daughter is experiencing that. It must make her feel terrible. I never know about all these different types. Thanks for bringing this to light!

  • Sue E

    One of my best friends from grammar school, has Fibromyalgia. It is a horrible disease & I never heard of it before she was diagnosed with it. She is stiff & in pain a lot!! I wish I can do something for her! It hurts me to see her hurt! It has slowed her down considerably!! This should be the time of her life were she can sit back & relax 🙁

  • Sherry Compton

    My heart goes out to these kids….adults, too. I just saw a video about kids with arthritis and how debilitating it can be. Their whole lives are affected. I am glad that more awareness is being brought to this subject.

  • rachel cartucci

    My sister has juvenile arthritis and was diagnosised at 17. Her knees fill up with fluid so much she can not walk at times. She also had this happen to her elbows on occasion. My sister has knots in her hands and she is only in her thirties now. It has been very hard for her. Thanks for sharing this…means a lot.

  • Diane Elizabeth

    I’m sorry your daughter has to deal with this. I had always assumed arthritis was something in my future, not something I’d need to watch for in my kids. Thanks for educating me!

  • Tamra Phelps

    At 50, I’ve had arthritis for over a decade, but I can’t begin to imagine a kid having to deal with it! I hope you find out what the problem is & that it is very treatable!

  • Kim Hampton

    Prayers going up for a correct diagnosis for your daughter and some relief! I have chronic pain and the doctors haven’t been able to figure out what’s causing it. I know how miserable it is.

  • Lily Kwan

    I didn’t know there are several types of juvenile arthritis. Thank you for sharing this information!