Arthritis Home > Specific Areas of the Body Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis Affects

Joint Symptoms

The most common symptom for all types of JRA is persistent joint swelling, pain, and stiffness that is typically worse in the morning or after a nap. The pain may limit movement of the affected joint, although many children (especially younger ones) will not complain of pain.
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis symptoms commonly affect the knees and joints in the wrist, hands, and feet. One of the earliest symptoms of the condition may be limping in the morning because of an affected knee.
Other joints that may be affected include those in the neck and hips.
Some children with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis may have growth problems. Depending on the severity of the disease and the joints involved, growth in affected joints may be too fast or too slow, causing one leg or arm to be longer than the other. Overall growth may also be slowed. Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis also may cause joints to grow unevenly or to one side.

Systemic Symptoms

Besides having joint symptoms, children with systemic juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (a type of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis that affects about 20 percent of children with JRA) have spiking fevers (over 103 degrees) occurring several times a day and a light (pink) skin rash. The rash and fever may appear and disappear very quickly. The rash may also appear in one area, disappear, and then reappear in another area. With the fever, the child may appear very ill.
Systemic juvenile rheumatoid arthritis also may cause the lymph nodes located in the neck and other parts of the body to swell. In some cases (less than half), internal organs, including the heart and (very rarely) the lungs may be involved. One common problem seen with the heart is known as pericarditis, which is inflammation of the sac that surrounds the heart.
For children with systemic juvenile arthritis, the fever, rash, or other systemic symptoms may appear months or even years before joint symptoms occur.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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