Identifying and Managing Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

Diagnosing JRA

Diagnosing juvenile rheumatoid arthritis can be difficult in its early stages for several reasons. First, there is no single test for the disease. In addition, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis symptoms differ from child to child and can be more severe in some children than in others.
 
To help diagnose juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and to rule out other conditions, healthcare providers use a variety of tools. These include:
 
  • A medical history
  • A physical examination
  • Laboratory tests
  • X-rays.
     
Before making a diagnosis of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, the healthcare provider will also consider other conditions that share a number of symptoms with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Some of these conditions include:
 
(Click Diagnosing Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis for more information on these specific tests.)
 

Treating Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

Healthcare providers use a variety of approaches to treat juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. These approaches are used in different combinations and at different times during the course of the disease, and are chosen according to the patient's individual situation.
 
The main goals of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis treatment are to preserve a high level of physical and social functioning and maintain a good quality of life. To achieve these goals, healthcare providers recommend treatments to:
 
  • Reduce swelling
  • Maintain full movement in the affected joint
  • Relieve pain
  • Identify, treat, and prevent complications.
     
In order to achieve these goals, most children with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis need medication, physical therapy, and exercise.
 
Medications used to treat juvenile rheumatoid arthritis include:
 
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
  • Corticosteroids
  • Biologic response modifiers, such as etanercept (Enbrel®).
     
It is possible that the healthcare provider may have to try several medicines before finding the one that works best for your child's particular situation.
 
(Click Treatment for Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis for more information on treating this condition. Coping With Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis for suggestions on dealing with JRA.)
 
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Juvenile Arthritis

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