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Juvenile Arthritis


Juvenile arthritis is a long-term autoimmune disease that causes pain and inflammation in one or more joints. Your child may have symptoms for only a few months, or for the rest of his or her life. Juvenile arthritis develops when the immune system attacks the tissues in the joints. Most children with juvenile arthritis have periods of remission (no signs or symptoms). Your child may have any of 6 subtypes of juvenile arthritis. Ask his or her healthcare provider for more information about the type he or she has.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that your child may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your child's medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done to your child. Make sure all of your questions are answered.


  • Pain medicine may be given. Learn how often your child should get the medicine and how much he or she should get. Watch for signs of pain. Tell healthcare providers if his or her pain continues or gets worse.
  • Disease-modifying rheumatoid arthritis drugs (DMARDs) help prevent joint damage, slow the progression of juvenile arthritis, and reduce pain, stiffness, and inflammation. DMARDs can take time to start working. Your child may also need to take other medicines to control his or her symptoms until the DMARDs start to work.
  • Steroid medicine helps decrease severe inflammation. These are usually given for a short time while other medicines are started that can take longer to be effective.
  • Biologic therapy includes medicines used to help decrease joint swelling, pain, and stiffness. These medicines can increase the risk for serious infections. Your child's health will need to be monitored while he or she is taking this medicine.


  • Blood tests are used to check your child's blood for signs of infection or inflammation.
  • X-ray or MRI pictures may be taken of your child's joints. Your child may be given contrast liquid to help the joints show up better on the x-ray. Tell the healthcare provider if your child has ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye. Do not let your child enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if your child has any metal in or on his or her body.
  • Arthrocentesis is a procedure used to drain fluid out of a joint. The fluid is tested for infection or other problems that can cause arthritis.
  • Synovial biopsy may be used if your child's joint fluid cannot be drained or if he or she has signs of an infection. A piece of tissue is removed from the lining of a joint. The tissue is tested for possible causes of your child's arthritis.


  • A physical therapist can help teach your child exercises to help improve his or her movement and strength, and to decrease pain. An occupational therapist can teach him or her skills to help with play and daily activities.
  • Surgery may be needed if your child's joints become severely affected. Surgery can be done to take out all or part of the joint and replace it with an artificial joint. This may be done to ease pain and repair the joint. It may also be done if the bones in your child's spine are pressing on the nerves.


Left untreated, juvenile arthritis can cause problems with your child's growth and daily activities. Juvenile arthritis may involve other organs in the body, such as the eyes, heart, or liver.


You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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