Juvenile idiopathic arthritis

What is juvenile idiopathic arthritis?

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) is inflammation of one or more of your joints, occuring before your 16th birthday. It is slightly more common in girls than boys, and tends to occur in pre-school age children, or teenagers.

The main symptoms of JIA are painful, stiff, swollen joints, which are sometimes warm to touch. Increased tiredness and fever may also be a feature. Some patients with JIA present with a limp with no preceeding injury.

There are different types of JIA with different symptoms and joints affected. Knowing which type you have can be helpful in predicting the disease course, and whether the condition may persist into adulthood. More information can be found at Arthritis Research UK, see below for links.

How is juvenile idiopathic arthritis treated?

The treatments for JIA aim to control the symptoms of the condition, enabling you to lead as active a life as possible. They also aim to reduce joint damage caused by the disease.

A number of different groups of medications are available. Painkillers might be useful, such as paracetamol or codeine. Some patients may be prescribed anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, naproxen or diclofenac, which work to reduce pain, stiffness and swelling of the joints.

Another group of medications, called disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) work by reducing inflammation in the joints, and helping to prevent long term joint damage. An example of a DMARD might be methotrexate, which is the one most commonly used in JIA. A newer group of drugs, called biologics, also work to reduce inflammation, and are used in cases of JIA that have not responded well to other therapies. Examples of biologics include etanercept, infliximab and adalimumab.

Where can I find out more about juvenile idiopathic arthritis?

arukArthritis Research UK

  • JIA Information – including more information about the condition, how it is diagnosed and treated, and living with the condition
  • JIA Types – table showing different types of JIA and their associated symptoms

jiaJIA at NRAS

  • About JIA – including more information about diagnosis and treatment
  • Living with JIA – real-life stories from people living with JIA, as well as useful information about claiming benefits, education and JIA, and transitioning to adult services

Last updated: October 3, 2017