Everything You Need to Know About Juvenile Arthritis

Juvenile arthritis, also known as pediatric arthritis, is a broad term encompassing various forms of arthritis that manifest in children who are under the age of 18. The seriousness of this condition can vary, making it challenging for children to cope with its physical and emotional impact. Interestingly, girls are affected by arthritis at a higher rate compared to boys. Symptoms may arise at any point from birth up until the age of 18, highlighting the importance of early detection and management. If you are seeking comprehensive knowledge about juvenile arthritis, continue reading to explore and understand the intricacies of this condition, its potential causes, diagnosis, treatment options, and beneficial coping strategies.

Juvenile Arthritis

The Symptoms of Juvenile Arthritis

If you suspect a child has developed juvenile arthritis, they may have some of these symptoms:

  • Pain, swelling, tenderness, stiff joints, limited range of motion.

  • Damage to joint cartilage.

  • Joint deformity.

  • Altered growth of bone joints.

The Main Kinds of Juvenile Arthritis

  • Polyarticular JRA, otherwise known as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, usually affects more than 5 joints. It affects girls more commonly than boys, and is most found in the wrists, knees, and ankles. However, it can also be found in other joints, and commonly affects both joints on each side of the body.

  • Pauciarticular JRA affects four or less joints, usually the knees, ankles, or wrists. You may also find eye inflammation in young girls.

  • Systemic onset JRA can affect both boys and girls equally, cause high fevers sometimes lasting months, cause a rash, and affect the joints in the hands, wrists, knees, and ankles.

Other Kinds of Juvenile Arthritis

There are other kinds of juvenile arthritis too, but these are rare. This includes:

  • Juvenile spondyloarthropathies.

  • Juvenile psoriatic arthritis.

  • Juvenile dermatomyositis.

  • Juvenile systemic lupus erythematosus.

  • Juvenile vasculitis.

These cases are all unique in their own way, so it’s important you learn as much as you can about them and teach your child to cope with them in the best way possible.

The Cause of Juvenile Arthritis

There is not usually a cause of juvenile arthritis. Unfortunately the reason it develops is largely unknown. However, it is not contagious.

Diagnosing Juvenile Arthritis

There isn’t one single test to diagnose juvenile arthritis. The diagnosis is usually made by looking at a complete medical history and a careful medical examination. An evaluation may also be required by a pediatric rheumatologist or a rheumatologist.

Helping a Child Cope with Juvenile Arthritis

The primary goals of treating this condition is to control swelling, relieve pain, and minimise joint damage. A treatment plan for a child will usually include medication, physical activity, occupational therapy, education, eye care, and proper dental care. Proper nutrition is also important, so try to avoid feeding them too much junk and fill their diet full of healthy, whole foods.

Helping Kids Through School

It’s crucial to prioritize making school life the best it can possibly be for children with juvenile arthritis. With every child experiencing their own unique set of symptoms, it becomes imperative to consider these individual needs when providing assistance. Regrettably, juvenile arthritis can inevitably impact a child’s school work, requiring thoughtful modifications to accommodate their condition and ensure their academic success.

Children with this condition may experience various challenges including compromised mobility, reduced strength, and decreased endurance. As they come to school, it is important to recognize that each student might have different levels of pain and stiffness. Additionally, there may be instances where irregular absences occur due to sudden flare-ups that happen unexpectedly. Despite these obstacles, it is crucial to ensure that every child feels equal to their peers. Finding a balance between engaging in play and safeguarding their joints becomes paramount in fostering a nurturing and inclusive environment for all.

You may also notice that the child has side effects caused by their medication, such as a bad tummy and occasional digestive discomfort. It’s not uncommon for them to require more frequent meals throughout the day to help alleviate these effects and maintain their overall well-being.

Be aware that the student may feel:

  • Like they are isolated.

  • Like they want to be treated like their peers.

  • Inadequate.

  • Insecure.

  • In pain.

  • Anger.

  • Depression.

  • Embarrassment.

The good news is that both parents and teachers can take the necessary steps to improve the child’s self esteem:

  • Listen to the child and observe them. Many kids won’t show that they have symptoms as they want to be like their peers, so watch for anything that may indicate as if they’re really in pain.

  • Encourage the child to focus on their strengths, rather than their weaknesses.

  • Encourage the child to participate in social interactions and extracurricular activities when they can.


In order to effectively manage juvenile arthritis, regular exercise plays a crucial role. While it is true that some children may require the use of joint supports, it is important to explain to them the reasons behind the necessity of exercise. Engaging in physical activity helps to maintain joint mobility, strengthen muscles, prevent loss of movement, enhance daily activities such as walking and dressing, and ultimately improve overall fitness and endurance levels. By incorporating regular exercise into their routine, children with juvenile arthritis can effectively manage their condition and enjoy an improved quality of life.

Participating in sports and recreational activities can significantly contribute to the development of a child’s confidence, especially if they lack self-assurance. It is crucial to guide them in choosing a sport that they genuinely enjoy and connect with. For instance, swimming is an excellent option as it places minimal pressure on the joints while offering numerous health benefits. In fact, even older individuals with osteoarthritis should seriously consider incorporating swimming into their routine to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle.

Coping Techniques

  • You may need to modify certain settings, like the classroom to make sure the child is comfortable.

  • Communication between the student and teacher is very important too, so you need to make sure that the teacher understands everything the child is going through.

  • Stiffness in the morning can make things harder, so try to get up earlier if it’s making the child late for school. If the teacher is willing to change the class schedule, this could also help.

  • Ask the teacher to give your child extra time to get to their next class, or an elevator pass to make getting from place to place easier for them.

  • Speak to physical education teachers to see if their lesson plans can be modified so your child can join in properly.

  • Emergency drills may also need to be modified in order for your child to exit a building safely.

It is crucial to empathize with the challenges faced by children with juvenile arthritis while ensuring that they feel just as normal as any other child. These young ones yearn to blend in with their peers and may experience feelings of sadness and isolation when they stand out. By following the tips outlined above and offering support, every child can effectively manage this condition and experience a sense of belonging, acceptance, and empowerment throughout their journey.

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