Signs and Symptons

Persistent joint pain, swelling and stiffness are the most common symptoms of all types of Juvenile Arthritis. These symptoms are typically worse in the morning or after a nap. This stiffness and pain can limit movement of the affected joint but many children will not complain about this.

The most common joints affected are the joints in the hands and feet, also the knees. Limping in the morning is one of the earliest signs of JIA. Sarah’s earliest sign was being a late walker, but then only walked for seven weeks and returned to shuffling which she’d done since birth. Children can also have a high fever and skin rash. These may appear and disappear very quickly. There may also be lymph nodes located on the neck and other parts of the body that swell. Less than half of children living with JIA will also have their lungs and rarely their hearts involved as well.

UveitiUVEitiss or eye inflammation can be potentially sever complication that commonly occurs in children with Oligoarthritis but can be seen in other types of JIA. Eye exams need to be a regular appointment, this must include a specialist exam. In most cases this is only found through eye exams as there are rarely any signs or symptoms.

There can be periods when the symptoms of JIA are better and may even disappear (remission), but there are times when it can get worse we call these ‘flares’. Juvenile Arthritis is different in each child and the best thing to do is to create a safe and supportive relationship with your child’s specialists to insure the best care.

Some children can also have growth problems, we all know that Sarah experienced this through medication mistreatment that was out of her control. This all depends though on the severity of the disease and which joints arSarah and Emilye involved. Joints may grow to quickly or too slow causing one leg or arm to be longer or shorter than the other. Overall growth in a child living with JIA may also be slowed and doctors are currently exploring the use of different medications to help with this.

How Is It Diagnosed?

To be diagnosed with Juvenile Arthritis the child must have had symptoms that began before the age of 16 years old. There’s no single test to be used to diagnose JIA in a child, but with the support Kids Arthritis offers to the community we hope that this will change.
What they currently do is examine carefully through medical history and results of different tests to confirm the condition to be JIA or something else. This process can take months or even years, but the key to getting through it is to be strong and supportive to your child. You may not know how they’re feeling and sometimes they don’t understand either. Look after your own health as well and consult with the medical specialist with any concerns you may have.

A doctor when diagnosing Juvenile Arthritis must consider not only the current symptoms but the length of time those symptoms have been present. They also look for joint swelling and other objective changes in the area. Keeping a record of this factor is very important. Grab yourself a small notebook and write little notes everyday about how your child is going and any noticeable signs and symptoms, take photographs as these will also help in the diagnoses process.