Symptoms of Juvenile Arthritis
What is Juvenile Arthritis?
Juvenile arthritis occurs due to an autoimmune disorder within the body. Instead of the body’s immune system protecting it from harmful substances, it attacks itself. Some common factors that could influence its development include genetic predisposition, triggers in the environment and certain types of infections.
The Five Types of Juvenile Arthritis
When your child receives a diagnosis of juvenile arthritis, it will be one of these five types:
- Enthesitis-Related: Most common in boys over age eight, this type often has a strong genetic component. It gets its name from the fact that it impacts the entheses, the location where the bones and tendons connect. This type also affects the eyes, hips and spine.
- Oligoarthritis: Alternatively known as pauciarticular juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, this type affects four joints or fewer in the first six months after diagnosis. Commonly affected areas include the iris of the eye, ankles and knees. Girls receive this diagnosis more often than boys. It’s also possible to outgrow it.
- Polyarthritis: This type affects five joints or more during the first six months. It alternatively goes by the name polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis (pJIA). It’s also more common in girls. Areas most commonly affected include the hands, feet, jaw and neck.
- Psoriatic arthritis: Children with this form of arthritis also have the skin condition psoriasis. However, they typically develop one condition several years before the other. Pitted fingernails are one of the most common symptoms of psoriatic arthritis.
- Systemic arthritis: Also called Still’s disease, system arthritis can affect several bodily systems or the entire body. Symptoms include high fever and rash with the rash occurring on arms, legs and trunk. It can also affect internal organs.
Common Symptoms of Juvenile Arthritis
The following symptoms indicate that your child may have one of the above forms of arthritis:
- Eye problems: Persistent issues such as pain, blurred vision or redness can possibly indicate juvenile arthritis.
- Fever: This is often accompanied by fatigue and tends to come on suddenly.
- Pain: This is often most obvious when a child first wakes up. Joint pain typically appears in the hands, feet, jaw, neck and/or knees.
- Rashes: Most apparent on the trunk, arms, legs, bridge of nose and/or cheeks, these rashes can also signify a serious rheumatic disease.
- Stiffness: The most obvious indication of stiffness related to juvenile arthritis is the inability to perform previously learned tasks, keeping a body part in the same position or limping.
- Weight loss: A lack of appetite and fatigue can lead to this common problem.
How to Seek Treatment
Juvenile arthritis affects approximately one child in 1,000. It can be challenging to diagnose because there is no blood test available and some symptoms mimic other conditions. Nevertheless, it’s important to contact your child’s regular doctor if you notice any of these symptoms. He or she may need to refer to an outside specialist for a firm diagnosis. You can contact us at the Arthritis Center of Lexington if you have questions.