Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA)

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What is juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA)?

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) can be described like this:
  • Juvenile means that the arthritis began before you were 16 years old.
  • Idiopathic means that the cause is unknown.
  • Arthritis means that one or more of your joints are inflamed.

What causes JIA?

We think that juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) is due to:
  • a combination of genetic factors
  • trigger factors from the environment e.g. an infection that hasn’t yet been identified.

How is JIA diagnosed?

To make a diagnosis of juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) your doctor will ask questions and examine you, and this will help to rule out other types of illness that can cause joint pain. You may also need a number of tests.

What are the different types of JIA?

There are several different types of JIA:
  • oligoarthritis
  • polyarthritis
  • extended oligoarthritis
  • enthesitis-related JIA
  • psoriatic arthritis
  • systemic-onset JIA
  • undifferentiated arthritis.

What effects can JIA have on my body?

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) can affect different people in different ways. You can read more about the following here:
  • varying symptoms
  • eye inflammation
  • effects on puberty
  • growth problems
  • dental care.

What treatments are there for JIA?

The aim of treatment for juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) is to:
  • control the symptoms of arthritis
  • enable you to lead an active life at school or college
  • enable you to enjoy an active family and social life
  • help you become an independent adult.

How can I help to ease the symptoms of JIA?

Try the following self-help tips to ease the symptoms of juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA):
  • Find out as much as you can about your condition.
  • Exercise – weight-bearing activities like walking are particularly good.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet.

What is the outlook for JIA?

Although some people will find that their condition stays active into adulthood, most cases of juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) have a good outcome.

Growing up with JIA

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) can affect different areas of your life as you grow up. You can find advice on the following subjects here:
  • home life
  • education
  • emotional wellbeing
  • activities
  • drugs
  • sex
  • having a baby.

Who can I talk to about JIA?

You may find it's useful to talk about any issues that juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) causes with:
  • your school/college nurse
  • school doctor or tutor
  • a member of your rheumatology team.

How will my relationship with my doctor change?

If you’re currently looked after in a children’s department you’ll eventually need to be transferred to an adult rheumatology department. The process of moving from child- to adult-centred health services is called transition.

What if I need help at school?

You may be eligible for an Individualised Education Plan (IEP) or Statement of Special Educational Needs at school.

What else should I know about living with JIA?

You can find information on practical matters of living with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) here, including:
  • money
  • learning and training
  • work
  • driving and getting around.

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Our Centre for Adolescent Rheumatology

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Arthritis Research UK has launched the world’s first centre dedicated to adolescent rheumatology.