Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) is a condition that causes inflammation in the joints. It happens to children and teens when the immune system does not work properly and attacks healthy joints. JIA is also called juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA).


The cause of JIA is unknown.


Common signs and symptoms related to JIA are:

  • Swollen, stiff or painful joints

  • Joints that feels warm to the touch

  • Limited motion

  • Limping


JIA can be difficult to diagnose and can sometimes take several months of observation from your doctor before they are able to make a diagnosis. To determine if your child has JIA, your specialized doctor will start with a thorough physical exam and ask about your child’s symptoms. They may recommend an X-ray or blood test to rule out other similar diseases. In some cases, your doctor will take a sample of fluid from an inflamed joint for testing.


JIA can’t be cured, however it can be managed. Goals of treatment include:

  • Decreasing swelling

  • Allowing your child to keep a full range of motion in his joints

  • Reducing pain

  • Preventing complications, such as damaged joints

  • Eliminating symptoms so that the RA is considered inactive (also called remission)

Possible non-surgical treatments your doctor may offer or recommend to treat your child’s JIA include:

  • Medications

  • Exercise

  • Physical therapy

  • Splinting

With the recent advancements in powerful medication, the need for surgery to treat JIA has dramatically reduced. There are some rare instances in which a child has developed significant enough joint damage and surgery might be recommended.

See more information

Connective Tissue Disorders