Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA, Arthritis in Childhood, Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, JRA, Juvenile Chronic Arthritis)

  • Medical Author:
    John Mersch, MD, FAAP

    Dr. Mersch received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego, and prior to entering the University Of Southern California School Of Medicine, was a graduate student (attaining PhD candidate status) in Experimental Pathology at USC. He attended internship and residency at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Quick GuideRheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Exercises Slideshow: Joint-Friendly Fitness Routines

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Exercises Slideshow: Joint-Friendly Fitness Routines

What are the types of juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA)/juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA)?

There are six broad categories of JIA. These include

  1. systemic onset JIA,
  2. oligoarticular JIA (containing two subgroups),
  3. polyarticular JIA (containing two subgroups),
  4. psoriatic arthritis,
  5. enthesitis related arthritis, and
  6. undifferentiated arthritis.

The specific criteria necessary to establish a diagnosis and prognosis for each category are detailed below.

What are causes and risk factors of juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA)/juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) arthritis?

While no specific cause(s) of JIA have been determined, there is strong evidence of both genetic and environmental factors being implicated in the development of the disease. Studies of the frequency of JIA have shown that if one identical twin develops the disease that the likelihood of their identical sibling developing JIA is 25%-40%. Studies of nonidentical siblings show evidence that if one child develops JIA there is a 15 to 30 times increased risk that a sibling will develop the condition when compared to the general pediatric population.

The biologic and clinical manifestations of JIA provide strong evidence that a general theme of an immune system misdirection is evident. The immune system has two "arms" -- the cell based (lymphocytes, etc.) and humeral based (antibodies). Rheumatologists have demonstrated that both of these elements of the immune system react against the patient's own body structures (joints, muscles, eye tissues, etc.). Much research is currently focused in an effort to better understand this auto-inflammatory process in the hope that understanding the cause of JIA will enable better and more effective treatments and ultimately a cure for the condition.

What specialists treat juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA)/juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA)?

Members of the treatment team would include a pediatric rheumatologist, a pediatric ophthalmologist, physical and occupational therapists, a pharmacologist, and a social worker/family counseling services.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/14/2016

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