What is juvenile rheumatoid arthritis?
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) is the most common form of arthritis in children. It may be a mild condition that causes few problems over time, but it can be much more persistent and cause joint and tissue damage in other children. JRA can produce serious complications in more severe cases.
It's not known exactly what causes rheumatoid arthritis also called idiopathic arthritis in children. Research indicates that it is an autoimmune disease. In autoimmune diseases, white blood cells lose the ability to tell the difference between the body's own healthy cells and harmful invaders like bacteria and viruses. The immune system, which is supposed to protect the body from these harmful invaders, however, it releases chemicals that can destroy healthy tissues and cause inflammation and pain.
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis can be detected from the ages of six (6) months to sixteen (16) years. The first signs often are joint pain or swelling and reddened or warm joints. When pain strikes, it's natural for the need of sitting. But it's important to maintain a regular exercise program. Muscles must be kept strong and healthy so they can help support and protect joints. Regular exercise also helps to maintain range of motion
Types of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA)
There are three major types of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis:
- Polyarticular arthritis affects mostly girls. The symptoms are pain in five (5) or more joints in the body
- Pauciaticular JRA it affects four(4) or fewer joints in the body the symptoms are pain, stiffness and swelling
- Systemic JRA affects the whole body and comes with extreme fever and causes inflammation of the internal organs
The general signs and symptoms of JRA may include limping or a sore wrist, finger, or knee. Joints may suddenly swell and remain enlarged. Stiffness in the neck, hips, or other joints can also occur. Rashes may suddenly appear and disappear, developing in one area and then another. High fevers that tend to spike in the evenings and suddenly disappear are characteristic of systemic juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.