Arthritis Home > Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) is the most common form of arthritis that affects children. JRA causes joint inflammation and stiffness for more than six weeks in children 16 years of age and younger. Researchers do not know exactly what causes it, but they do know that it is an autoimmune disorder. Symptoms may include joint swelling and pain, decreased range of movement within affected joints, and spiking fevers. Treatment typically involves exercise, physical therapy, and medications.

What Is Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Arthritis means "joint inflammation" and refers to a group of diseases that cause pain, swelling, stiffness, and loss of motion in the joints. Children can develop almost all types of arthritis that affect adults; however, the most common type of arthritis that affects children is juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA).
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is arthritis that causes joint inflammation and stiffness for more than six weeks in a child of 16 years of age or younger. Inflammation causes redness, swelling, warmth, and soreness in the joints, although many children with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis do not complain of joint pain. Any joint can be affected, and inflammation may limit the mobility of affected joints. One type of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis can also affect the internal organs.
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is also known as juvenile arthritis or juvenile idiopathic arthritis.

Who Gets It?

Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis affects approximately 30,000 to 60,000 children in the United States. It is more common in girls than boys and can affect any joint.

What Causes It?

Doctors and scientists do not know the exact cause or causes of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. They do know that it is an autoimmune disorder, a condition in which the body mistakenly identifies some of its own cells and tissues as foreign. Researchers do not know why the immune system turns against itself. At this point, arthritis research scientists think that the cause of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is related to a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
(Click Causes of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis for more information.)
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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