According to the Arthritis Foundation, Juvenile Arthritis, also known as pediatric rheumatic disease, affects approximately 300,000 children in the U.S. There is no known cause of juvenile arthritis.
What are the types of Juvenile Arthritis?
The Arthritis Foundation lists several types of Juvenile Arthritis (JA):
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA)
This condition is the most common form of juvenile arthritis. It has six different subtypes:
Scleroderma means “hard skin”. With this form of JA, the patient’s skin becomes tight and hard.
Juvenile dermatomyositis is an inflammatory disease causing a rash on the knuckles and eyelids, and overall muscle weakness.
This disease is a form of lupus, an autoimmune disease affecting the skin, kidneys, blood, joints and other parts of the body. The most common type is known as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
With this condition, the blood-vessels become inflamed, causing potential heart problems.
This condition is rarely diagnosed before puberty. It is considered an arthritis related condition causing stiffness, pain, fatigue, mental fog, inflammation and other symptoms. Learn more about fibromyalgia.
Mixed connective tissue disease
This disease is associated with high levels of anti-RNP, an antinuclear antibody. The symptoms include those of arthritis, lupus dermatomyositis and scleroderma.
Methotrexate for treatment of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
The most commonly prescribed medication for treating symptoms of juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) is Methotrexate. This generic disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD) belongs to a class of drugs known as antimetabolites. It works by suppressing the immune system, and helps reduce joint damage in those with rheumatoid arthritis.
The active ingredient in Methotrexate is methotrexate sodium.
Methotrexate is available in 2.5mg tablets.
Methotrexate is also available in a liquid solution and a subcutaneous injection.
How is Methotrexate used?
Because Methotrexate is a very strong medication, it must be taken exactly according to your doctor’s orders. Dosing and timing of doses depends on the patient’s individual needs and condition.
The pill form of Methotrexate is usually taken once a week and it may take up to a few months before the patient will notice the full benefits of this medication.
If you have been prescribed liquid Methotrexate, be sure to measure each dose only using the measuring device that comes with your prescription.
Increasing the dose or taking more than prescribed will not give you any added benefits or improve the medical condition being treated any faster.
Always speak to your doctor and pharmacist about side effects, how to take Methotrexate, how to stop Methotrexate, and what to do if you miss a dose.
Prednisone for treatment of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
Prednisone is known as a corticosteroid. It works by suppressing the immune system, which slows the body’s response to certain diseases or injury and as a result, reduces swelling and inflammation. To learn more about how Prednisone works, read our article How Prednisone Works to Reduce Inflammation.
What are the symptoms of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis?
Symptoms may vary from patient to patient, and while some symptoms may appear for a short period of time (i.e. a flare-up), other symptoms may be chronic (i.e. ongoing). Symptoms may include:
How is Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis diagnosed?
Most doctors will base a diagnosis on the symptoms that have occurred within a 6 week period or more. Diagnosis may be difficult, so several blood tests are usually ordered including:
Other tests such as x-rays, MRIs, bone scans and CT scans may also be ordered to help the doctor make a proper and complete diagnosis.
Lifestyle changes to help manage Juvenile Arthritis
Many children outgrow types of juvenile arthritis. With a positive attitude and certain changes, many patients can manage and have more good days than uncomfortable days.
Is Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis an autoimmune disease?
JIA has long been thought of as a combination of autoimmune diseases. However, there is some belief that systemic JIA (sJIA) may be an autoinflammatory disease, according to an article “Is JIA Really an Autoimmune Disease?”To learn more about juvenile arthritis please check out KidsGetAthritisToo.org, created by the Arthritis Foundation.
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This article contains medical information provided to help you better understand this particular medical condition or process, and may contain information about medication often used as part of a treatment plan prescribed by a doctor. It is not intended to be used as either a diagnoses or recommendation for treatment of your particular medical situation. If you are unwell, concerned about your physical or mental state, or are experiencing symptoms you should speak with your doctor or primary health care provider. If you are in medical distress please contact emergency services (such as 911).