Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis

Background

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) is a term used for several types of arthritis that involve long-lasting joint inflammation that begins before age 16. It often causes joint pain, swelling, stiffness, and loss of motion as well as joint damage over time.

Causes

The exact cause of these conditions are unknown. Many scientists believe that certain factors are involved, such as:

  • GeneticsCertain genes passed from parent to child are known to play a role in the development of these conditions, although they are not the only factor.
  • Environmental - Some scientists believe there is something environmental (such as an infection) that may trigger a person whose genetic makeup makes them more likely to develop the condition.

Treatment

The treatment goals for JIA are to relieve pain, reduce swelling in the joints, slow down or stop joint damage, and help people feel better and stay active. Medications are taken by mouth or given as a shot and may include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) - Reduce the amount of swelling and quickly relieve pain.
  • CorticosteroidsReduce swelling and help relieve pain over time.
  • Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and biologic response modifiers (biologics) - Reduce swelling, help relieve pain over time, and slow or prevent joint damage.
     

Physical therapy also helps preserve joint function and may prevent deformities.

Resources