What is Juvenile Arthritis?

Before I explain what Juvenile Arthritis IS, let me tell you what it ISN'T

Juvenile Arthritis is NOT like the arthritis most commonly associated with getting older (Osteoarthritis)
Juvenile Arthritis is NOT the same as the Rheumatoid Arthritis, that affects adults (though, there are similarities)
Juvenile Arthritis is NOT a disease that children simply "grow out of"
Juvenile Arthritis is NOT limited to just the joints: it can cause irreversible damage in the eyes and other internal organs
Juvenile Arthritis is NOT a disease with an easy "fix."

Now, let me tell you what Juvenile Arthritis IS:

Juvenile Arthritis is an autoimmune disease, where the child's own immune system begins misfiring and attacks its own joints causing pain, swelling, and inflammation in the joints that can lead to long term damage and deformities.
Juvenile Arthritis is a disease that affects over 300,000 children in the US
Juvenile Arthritis  is UNACCEPTABLE.

There are several different types of Juvenile Arthritis. The most common type of JA is Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis. There are four main subgroups of JIA (from www.arthritis.org):
  • Oligoarthritis: This type of JA, which accounts for 40 percent of new JIA patients is diagnosed when four or fewer joints are involved within the first six months.
  • Polyarthritis: A child is diagnosed with polyarthritis when five or more joints are involved during the first six months.
  • Systemic: Though broad in reach, with the potential to involve the entire body – systemic JIA is narrow in scope, comprising only about 10 percent of JIA cases.. Symptoms may include a non-contagious fever and rash, and inflammation can particularly the spleen or the membranes that covering the lungs and heart.
  • Enthesitis-related: This type is characterized by the inflammation of the entheses, or sites where tendons attach to the bone.

In addition to JA, there are several other types of JA including Juvenile Lupus, Juvenile Scleroderma, Juvenile Psoriatic Arthritis, and Juvenile Dermatmyositis.