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Information For Parents – With Children That Have JIA. 

 February 22, 2024

By  Linda Rook

Introduction.

Arthritis can affect people of all ages. Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, or JIA, is a precise arthritis that only attacks under 17-year-old children. JIA affect the joints and surrounding tissues. It can also affect the organs like their eyes, liver, heart, and even lungs in dire cases.  There are information that the parents can help their little ones to have a basic normal life as possible.  

JIA is a chronic condition, which means that it may last for months or even years. Symptoms can go away with 

treatment; it’s known as remission. 

Remission can last for the rest of their lives or months or years.  Unfortunately, there is no cure for JIA, but doctors can ease the symptoms and limit the damage to the joints.

What Is Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis JIA.

Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis or JIA is also known as Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA).

Most types of JIA are autoimmune; this means that your child’s immune system is mistaking their cells for a foreign body and attacks them. It causes the joints to become painful, swelling and stiff.

In some cases, JIA can cause just minor problems, but it can be severe, their joints can be damaged, or can have limited growth. The joints get inflamed and swell in one or more joints. The JIA occurs typically before your child’s 16th birthday.

JIA commonly occurs in girls and is mainly common in re-school age children or teens.

There is more than one type of JIA, and the symptoms differ from the different types. In some children, the symptoms can be challenging to control.

What can Parents look out for?

The symptoms to look out for are any of the following that lasts for a couple of weeks.

  • Your child has painful, swollen or stiff joints.
  • Joint(s) that are red or warm to touch.
  • Increased tiredness.
  • If there is a fever that keeps returning.
  • Your child has a limp but no injury.
Parent at home with a feverish child

When you see any of the above, you should make them an appointment at their doctors as soon as possible. The doctor may refer them to a paediatric rheumatology consultant.

How will JIA affect your child?

Most children with JIA may have no symptoms when they are adults, but about 30% may have it through their adulthood. Some have joint damage and may have limited mobility, and a few may have a joint replacement.

Some children may be physically smaller than average or may have osteoporosis. Resulting in their arthritis or/and treatment with steroids.

What will the doctors do?

Diseases like Lyme disease has similar symptoms to JIA. The child’s doctor will first want to rule out any other options before determining JIA’s.

The doctor will look at:

child at opticians
  • Has anyone in the family had arthritis?
  • Look for joint swelling.
  • Any eye problems.
  • Any rashes over the body.
  • Do a blood test and x-ray.

In some cases, the doctor may take a sample of synovial fluid from the joint.

A doctor may need to have the patient back again for several months to determine which type of JIA the child/teenager has.

What is the diagnosis?

When and if the doctor refers your child to the hospital, they will first ask some questions. There isn’t an exact test for JIA. Nevertheless, they will probably do the following:

The diagnoses of JIA is if:

  • Your child has had the symptom for six weeks or more.
  • The symptom started before their 16th birthday.
  • Their doctor has ruled out other conditions.
  • An x-ray or MRI scan - to see if there is arthritis.
  • Take a blood test.
  • Remove some fluid from the joint – this will rule out an infection.
  • Examination of the bone marrow – to rule out some other rare condition or onset of JIA.
mum reassuring child.

The conditions of JIA.

Children and teenagers with JIA will suffer from pain and stiffness that changes from day to day or even morning to afternoon.

The symptoms can also come and go; when the condition is more active and the pain is terrible, it’s called a flare-up.

Five symptoms parents can watch for.

Five symptoms to look out for are as follows:

1.Fatigue.

Joint pain can keep your child awake at night, making them feel tired at school.

The inflammation of the joint can also leave your child feeling fatigued. Your child could also lose their appetite and gaining weight as they grow or even lose weight.

You can help your teenager to keep active. Exercise is a way of releasing endorphins, which is the body’s natural painkiller.

2.Uneven balance.

Arthritis damages the joints whilst your child is still growing; these are called growth plates on the end of the bones. Allowing their bones to get longer and more robust. But, with arthritis, the growth plates and surrounding areas are distorted. Because of this, the bones grow at different rates. For instance, one arm or leg may be longer than the other.

eye drops for children


3. Problems with the eyes.

Arthritis can attack the eyes, making them red and painful. Your child may even be sensitive to light; if this does not get treated early, it may permanently damage the eyes and have problems with vision.


4. Fever and rash.

Children with JIA may experience high fever and a pinkish rash on the skin. The rash could be mainly on the Chest, Abdomen, Back or the Hand and/or Feet.

The rash and fever can come and go suddenly, and the fever could spike at 103 deg Fahrenheit or 39.4 deg centigrade. Unlike a cold, this fever can last for weeks.

5. Swollen Internal Organs and Lymph Nodes.

Lymph nodes are small glands that are filters and are found all over the body, including the jaw, armpit and inside the thigh. Occasionally the swelling could spread to the child’s internal organs, for example, heart, liver, spleen.

In some rare cases, the inflammation can be in the lungs. A rare severe condition called macrophage activation syndrome MAS. MAS could occur where the immune system goes into extreme overdrive.

The cause of JIA.

As in JIA, the immune system does not work correctly, and it’s difficult telling the difference between the tissues and damaging germs. The confusion is that the immune system attack’s and damages the bodies healthy tissue. Causing inflammation, just like the JIA.

JIA is it genetic.

Researchers have found that it’s rare to have two people in the same family to have JIA, but genetic factors can be involved. JIA is a combination of genetic and trigger factors, such as the immune system being in contact with infections. An infection may trigger the immune system, therefore, affects the joints.

Is it contagious?

No, you cannot catch JIA from someone else like the cold or infection.

How can Parents help their child?

You can give your child ibuprofen or naproxen which can help the inflammation.

Doctors may prescribe a weekly medication ‘Methotrexate’. Or there is a new medication that the doctor can explain, such as etanercept, adalimumab, abatacept, and tocilizumab which can keep the immune system in control of the disease.

Arthritis flare-ups, their doctor may consider corticosteroids, but this gives side effects, so doctors limit this.

Doctors may refer your child for physical therapy exercise that can improve the movement of the joints.

But.

The end result for your child with JIA is to:

Child learning Maths at School.
  • Control the Symptoms.
  • Enabling your child to have a normal life as possible at school and college.
  • Helping your child to have a happy and enjoyable family and social life.
  • and help them to have an independent adulthood.

The most important thing is to do all of the above stuff whilst reducing any of the side effects caused by medication. Instead of the drug that your child is taking, giving her/him more side effects, try giving them a healthy diet. Some researchers have found that the Mediterranean or the Dash diet is the healthiest ones.

Living with JIA.

First thing in the morning, after an eight-hour sleep, your child will have problems getting out of bed. Staying in one place, like sleeping, can cause stiffness and periods where your child may be tempted to roll back into bed for the day, but this can be worse. Even if they feel lousy, you should coax them to move around gently; This can make them feel better.

Gently massaging and stretching can soothe the child’s muscles and ligaments around the sore joints.

Exercising every day will keep the full movability of the joints, which helps to strengthen the muscles and bones. Physiotherapy can help to get a program to do at home.

You can help them to have a healthy diet. A positive mental attitude is also just as important as exercise and a healthy diet. Sometimes your child will become depressed, talk to them and support them.

Try and get them to do simple things that healthy people take for granted, such as each day try and get them to do something that they enjoy and making them happy.

How to help your child with arthritis.

  • Make sure that your child is taking the medication as directed by the hospital or their doctor.
  • Work together with your child’s physical therapist so that you can do an exercise program with them. Exercising will help their muscles be strong and flexible.
  • Learn about juvenile idiopathic arthritis with your child. 
  • Ensure that they do not have too many rubbishy foods, as this will worsen their arthritis.
  • Make sure that your child is eating healthily (give them fruit and veggies).
  • They should be getting enough sleep.
  • If your teenager smokes, they must stop.
  • And finally, avoid illegal drugs and alcohol.

Conclusion.

Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, or JIA, is a terrible disease; sometimes, it can be so severe for your child that they will not be able to get out of bed.  JIA can occur in any joints, and in extreme cases, it can be in their internal organs.  Children up to the age of their 16th birthday can develop JIA and can last years, months, or it can be in remission.  

The only thing you can do is help them keep moving so that the joints do not stiffen up much and make sure that they are eating healthier, ensure that they are having a nutritious meal, no junk food, and will be able to live a normal life.

I hope you have found this blog informative for your little ones that have JIA.

I hope this article has helped you. Please subscribe to my website, and I will keep you updated on new blogs. Also, if you need to know anything about arthritis, please go to my contact page and leave a message, and I will get back to you.

In the meantime, if this post is informative, I would be very grateful if you would help your friends or family if they have a similar condition to tell them. So please share it on Twitter (X) or Facebook or send them an email.

Do not forget to click on the button below for you FREE PDF for more information to help you with your little toddlers.

I am not a medical professional, and this blog is for information only. If you have any worries, you should consult your doctor.

I hope this blog has helped.

Linda Rook

Linda is now retired and has suffered from Osteoarthritis for about 40+ years.  She struggled with her weight until she found the correct one that also helped with her arthritic pain.  Linda was in terrible pain until the physician thought her right hip needed replacement. 


Now Linda has an artificial right hip, which has left her with the left leg shorter than the right.  Therefore, her spine is now wonky, and has arthritis of the lower back, also it seems to be going all over the body, her pain is now in the knees, elbow, wrist, fingers and both hips.


Linda now spends her days writing information to help others with the same conditions, so they do not suffer like Linda.


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What Supplements Are Good For Arthritis?


Coping With Pregnancy and Chronic Illness.

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