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Symptoms of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis

The symptoms of juvenile idiopathic arthritis vary greatly from child to child. They may be very mild, very severe, or anything in between, and they may change over time, sometimes overnight. Fluctuations, in which the symptoms get worse (flare up) and then get better or go away completely (remission) are fairly typical.

What are some of the symptoms of juvenile idiopathic arthritis?

If your child is displaying some of these symptoms, talk to your doctor or pediatrician right away.

  • Joint pain and stiffness. Joint pain and stiffness is most often felt and is more severe in the morning.
  • Limping. The pain may cause your child to protect or guard a joint. You might notice your child limping or avoiding the use of a certain joint.
  • Increased irritability. The overall body aches, stiffness, and flu-like symptoms your child experiences can cause irritability.
  • Swelling of affected joints. Your child has sudden, unexplained swelling, redness, and pain in any joint or joints. If redness or swelling is present in a single joint, or if the pain is severe, call your health professional immediately. This could indicate an infection in the joint.
  • Limited range of motion. Pain, swelling, and stiffness may impair joint function and reduce range of motion. A contracture often develops in a joint affected by arthritis and it may make it impossible to move the joint normally.
    • A contracture is the abnormal shortening of a functioning muscle.

  • Weight loss and loss of appetite. This is common in children with juvenile arthritis, probably due to the pain or flu-like conditions, which make the child refuse to eat.
    Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis should be diagnosed by your doctor.
    Some children suffer a loss of appetite severe enough that malnutrition becomes a medical concern. If your child has little appetite for food, consult a nutritionist for help with your child's basic nutritional needs.
  • Trouble sleeping. Many children experience sleep disturbances, including difficulty falling asleep and frequent night awakenings.
  • Lethargy. Your child may feel tired and listless from fighting pain, loss of appetite, and trouble sleeping. Exercise will help combat feelings of fatigue.
  • Sad and withdrawn. Children with arthritis struggle to keep up with the demands of school as a result of physical pain and disability. Not being able to play with friends or participate in activities due to arthritis can make children feel sad and isolated.
  • Persistent flu-like symptoms. Because juvenile arthritis involves the immune system, flu-like symptoms may also occur.
  • Recurrent fevers. Fever is high and comes and goes with no apparent cause. Fever may “spike” (go high) as often as several times in one day.
  • Inflammatory eye diseases. Your child may develop red eyes, eye pain, and vision blurring or loss, and increased sensitivity to light. Juvenile arthritis can lead to inflammatory eye disease, which can cause blindness if left untreated. Eye disease may have no symptoms before vision loss occurs, so it’s important for your child to have regular examinations with an ophthalmologist. Treatment can begin before your child has long-lasting vision problems.
    • An ophthalmologist is a doctor who specializes in the medical and surgical care of the eyes and visual system and in the prevention of eye disease and injury.

  • Rashes. A pink colored rash, usually found on the torso or limbs, which gets worse when a fever is high.
  • Enlarged liver and spleen. Systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis can affect the internal organs causing an enlarged liver or spleen.
  • Swollen lymph nodes. They are small nodules of tissue that work as part of the immune system to help remove certain types of dead cells. Normally, lymph nodes are very small and cannot be felt through the skin. When swollen, they can be felt and often are tender to the touch.
  • Serositis. The inflammation of the serous tissues of the body, the tissues lining the lungs (pleura), heart (pericardium), and the inner lining of the abdomen (peritoneum) and organs within.
  • Muscle tenderness and soreness. This is similar to that achy feeling that comes with the flu. It usually affects muscles throughout the whole body.
  • Growth problems. Other problems may occur but might not be noticeable right away. For instance, inflammation in a knee may cause one leg to grow more slowly than the other.

My child's symptoms seem to come and go

 Arthritis in children can be help natural with therapeutic ultrasound.

Arthritis in children can sometimes last for several months to a year and then disappear forever. However, most children have an up-and-down course for many years, depending on the type of arthritis they have.

Flares-ups (also known as exacerbations) are those times when the arthritis seems to be getting worse.

Remissions are times when the arthritis appears to have gone away.

A mild infection, such as the 'flu,' may trigger a flare. Usually, the cause of the flare is not identified. It is upsetting for parents to see a flare-up when they thought the disease had improved or disappeared. Nevertheless, stay optimistic. For most children, these flares tend to become less severe and occur less often with time.

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