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Juvenile Arthritis (JA)

A term often used to describe arthritis in children.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases)

About Juvenile Arthritis (JA)

Juvenile arthritis is a term that describes arthritis in children. "Arthritis" means joint inflammation. Arthritis refers to a group of diseases that cause pain, swelling, stiffness, and loss of motion in the joints. A joint is where two or more bones come together. Juvenile arthritis commonly affects the knees and the joints in the hands and feet.

There are more than 100 arthritic or rheumatic diseases that may affect the joints but can also cause pain, swelling, and stiffness in other supporting structures of the body such as muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones. Some rheumatic diseases can also affect other parts of the body, including various internal organs.

Children can develop almost all types of arthritis that affect adults, but the most common type that affects children is juvenile idiopathic arthritis.

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis is an umbrella term, or classification system, for all of the more specific types of chronic, or long-lasting, arthritis in children. These conditions used to fall under the term, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, which is no longer used....Read more about Juvenile Arthritis
NIH - National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Methotrexate for juvenile idiopathic arthritis

Methotrexate (MTX) is a commonly used immuno modifying drug for children with juvenile arthritis. It is believed that MTX is an effective medication for children with juvenile arthritis. We reviewed the existing literature on the efficacy of MTX on patient centered disability measures. Two trials were found and the results were pooled. We found small to moderate effects of MTX. These effects ranged from 3 to 23% greater improvement in the MTX group than the placebo group. However, most of these effects were too small to be clinically significant.

Exercise therapy in juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA)

This summary presents what we know from research about the effect of exercise therapy in JIA. The review shows that in children with JIA, exercise may not lead to any difference in a child's ability to function or move their joints fully, the number of joints with swelling, quality of life, overall wellbeing, pain or aerobic capacity. Aerobic capacity is the amount of oxygen the body consumes during exercise. If a person has low aerobic capacity, it generally means he or she is able to do less physical activity and may tire easily.

Tocilizumab (Actemra, Intravenous): For the Treatment of Signs and Symptoms of Active Polyarticular Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis in Patients Two Years of Age and Older Who Have Responded Inadequately to Previous Therapy With Disease-Modifying Antirheumatic Drugs and Systemic Corticosteroids [Internet]

The objective of this systematic review is to examine the beneficial and harmful effects of IV tocilizumab in the treatment of active polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis (pJIA).

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Summaries for consumers

Methotrexate for juvenile idiopathic arthritis

Methotrexate (MTX) is a commonly used immuno modifying drug for children with juvenile arthritis. It is believed that MTX is an effective medication for children with juvenile arthritis. We reviewed the existing literature on the efficacy of MTX on patient centered disability measures. Two trials were found and the results were pooled. We found small to moderate effects of MTX. These effects ranged from 3 to 23% greater improvement in the MTX group than the placebo group. However, most of these effects were too small to be clinically significant.

Exercise therapy in juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA)

This summary presents what we know from research about the effect of exercise therapy in JIA. The review shows that in children with JIA, exercise may not lead to any difference in a child's ability to function or move their joints fully, the number of joints with swelling, quality of life, overall wellbeing, pain or aerobic capacity. Aerobic capacity is the amount of oxygen the body consumes during exercise. If a person has low aerobic capacity, it generally means he or she is able to do less physical activity and may tire easily.

Intra‐articular steroids and splints/rest for arthritis in children and adults

Seven moderate quality studies were reviewed and provide the best evidence we have today. The studies tested 346 adults with rheumatoid arthritis. They compared people who had a steroid injection, a fake injection or aspiration/washout of their knees or wrists to each other. Two studies tested whether people should rest their joints after injections.

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Terms to know

Arthritis
A general term for conditions that cause inflammation (swelling) of the joints and surrounding tissues. Some forms of arthritis may occur simultaneously with osteoporosis and Paget's disease.
Idiopathic
A medical term meaning "of unknown cause".
Inflammation
Redness, swelling, pain, and/or a feeling of heat in an area of the body. This is a protective reaction to injury, disease, or irritation of the tissues.
Joints
In medicine, the place where two or more bones are connected. Examples include the shoulder, elbow, knee, and jaw.
Rheumatic Diseases
An umbrella term for conditions causing chronic, often intermittent pain affecting the joints and/or connective tissue.
Rheumatologist
Doctors who diagnose and treat diseases of the bones, joints, muscles, and tendons, including arthritis and collagen diseases.

More about Juvenile Arthritis

Photo of a child

Also called: Childhood arthritis

See Also: Juvenile Osteoporosis

Other terms to know: See all 6
Arthritis, Idiopathic, Inflammation

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