Skip to Content

Menu Icon
Menu
Menu Icon

Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis

Topic Overview

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), formerly called juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) or juvenile chronic arthritis (JCA), is a disease that affects children age 16 and younger. It causes inflamed, swollen, stiff, and often painful joints. JIA may affect one or more joints and can cause a generalized illness.

The cause of JIA is unknown. Most experts believe it may be caused by a combination of the following things:

  • An overly active immune system that inappropriately attacks joint tissues, as if they were foreign substances. Viral or bacterial infections are a suspected trigger of the autoimmune process.
  • Genetic factors that make a child's immune system more likely to react inappropriately

Common symptoms of JIA include:

  • Joint pain and swelling that may come and go but are most often persistent.
  • Joint stiffness in the morning.
  • Irritability, refusal to walk, or protection or guarding of a joint. You might notice your child limping or avoiding the use of a certain joint.
  • Often unpredictable changes in symptoms, from periods with no symptoms (remission) to flare-ups.

A child with JIA will likely be treated with a combination of medicines and physical therapy. The goals of medical treatment are to reduce your child's joint pain and to prevent disability.

For more information, see the topic Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Last Revised June 5, 2012

Last Revised: June 5, 2012

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2014 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

Symptom Checker

Feeling under the weather?

Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.

Decision Points

Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.

You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:

Interactive Tools

Get started learning more about your health!

Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.