All you need to know about the subtypes of the most common form of juvenile arthritis – Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA)
The inflammation of the tissue that covers the inside of the joints (synovium) is referred to as arthritis. This disorder affects adults and children alike. When this condition affects children aged 16 years or younger, it is termed as Juvenile Arthritis. There are several different forms of juvenile arthritis like juvenile dermatomyositis, juvenile lupus, Kawasaki disease, etc. Around 300,000 children in the United States, one in every 1000, are diagnosed with some form of juvenile arthritis each year. The most common form of arthritis to affect children and adolescents is Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis.
This form of arthritis is termed as ‘idiopathic’ as the precise cause of this condition is unknown. Scientists are of the opinion that a combination of environmental triggers, genetics, and certain infections may play a key role. JIA is a chronic autoimmune disorder and is not contagious. Autoimmune disorders are those disorders where the immune system becomes hyperactive and attacks healthy tissues and cells for no apparent reason. As JIA is a chronic disorder, when ignored, it can lead to serious complications. One of the ways of reducing the risks of these complications is timely follow-ups with your doctors.
There are different subtypes of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, such as:
Out of all the JIA cases that are diagnosed, 50 percent are oligoarticular in nature. In this subtype of JIA, arthritis affects around four or fewer joints. The main joints to be affected are the large joints like the ankles, knees, wrists, and the elbows. In some cases, it may also affect smaller joints such as the fingers and toes. The hip is usually not affected in this form of JIA. The joints that are affected are usually on only one side of the body.
Girls are at a higher risk of developing oligoarticular JIA than the boys. Children who are 7 years or younger at the time of diagnosis have the best prospects of this disease subsiding over time. However, they also run a higher risk of developing uveitis (iritis or inflammation of the iris of the eye). Uveitis can prevail even after the joint issues end. As there are no symptoms of iritis, regular check-up by an ophthalmologist is recommended to prevent vision loss. Older children have a higher chance of developing ‘extended’ arthritis that continues into adulthood.
Also called as Still’s disease, Systemic JIA accounts for about 10-20 percent of all JIA cases. This subtype is distinguished by arthritis, a high fever (103 degrees F or higher), and a salmon pink rash. It can affect the whole body or a number of systems of the body. Usually both large and small joints are affected. The trunk and the extremities are common places where the rash is seen. Inflammation of the internal organs such as the heart, liver, lymph nodes, and the spleen, may also be caused by systemic JIA along with the inflammation of the joints. Diagnosing this subtype of JIA is most often challenging because of the come-and-go nature of the fever and the rash. Also, swelling of the joints may occur weeks or even months after the fever. Girls and boys are equally affected by this subtype.
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