What is Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment


Also known as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, it is the most common type of arthritis in children under 17. This type of arthritis causes persistent pain, swelling, and stiffness. Some children may experience symptoms for only a few months, while others may present them throughout their lives.

The symptoms

Pain. Although it is possible that the child does not complain of the pain, it can be noticed that generally, when waking up, it hobbles a little.

Swelling . However, swelling joints can be observed in severe inflammations, especially in the knees.

Rigidity . The child may be stiff in the morning or wake from a nap, making it look clumsy and hit.

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis can affect one or several joints. In some cases, it can also affect the whole body, causing inflammation of the lymph nodes, rashes, and fever.


Idiopathic arthritis occurs when the body’s immune system attacks its cells and tissues. It is unknown exactly why it happens. However, it is believed that inheritance and the environment are the main culprits.


Specific mutations of genes favor that a person is more prone to environmental factors triggering the disease.

Tests and diagnosis

Blood test

Globular sedimentation rate. It is the speed at which red blood cells settle in the bottom of a blood tube. A high rate of them may indicate inflammation.

The measurement of ESR (to measure sedimentation rate of erythrocytes). It can be used to help catalog the type of juvenile idiopathic arthritis and establish the degree of inflammation.

Anti-nuclear antibody . They are proteins typically produced by the immune system of people with autoimmune diseases, such as arthritis.

The rheumatoid factor. This antibody is frequently found in the blood of children with rheumatoid arthritis.

Treatments and drugs


For some children, painkillers are the only medication they need. Other children may need the help of drugs created to restrict the spread of the disease. Some medicines used for juvenile idiopathic arthritis are:

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. These medications, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) and naproxen (Aleve), reduce pain and swelling. Side effects include stomach upset and liver problems.

Immune suppressors . Since an overactive immune system causes juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, medications that suppress the immune system can help. This medicine increases the risk of infections and, in rare cases, can improve some types of cancer.

Corticosteroids . They can be administered orally or by direct injection in a joint. However, these drugs can hinder average growth and increase the susceptibility to infection, so they are usually used in the shortest possible time.

Lifestyle and home remedies

Parents can help children learn self-care methods that help reduce the effects of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. The techniques include:

Exercise regularly. Exercise is essential because it creates muscle strength and flexibility in the joints. Swimming is an excellent option since it puts the least stress on the joints.

The application of cold or heat. Stiffness affects many children with this type of arthritis, particularly in the morning. However, some children respond well to cold packs, although most prefer a compress or bath.

Eat regularly . Some children with this type of arthritis may have little appetite. Others may gain a lot of weight due to medications or lack of physical activity. A healthy diet will help maintain adequate body weight.