Yes, Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) is a new term that describes a group of chronic inflammatory diseases that affect children. Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA) is the older term that was used to describe the same set of inflammatory problems.
JIA is defined as arthritis (inflammation of the joints) of greater than 3 months' duration with onset at less than 16 years of age. Other causes of arthritis in children, such as leukemia, should be excluded to confirm the diagnosis.
Symptoms include joint pain and tenderness, redness over the involved joint, decreased mobility, gait disturbance, limping, fever and rashes.
Yes. Inflammation of the inside of the eye/s is called iritis or anterior uveitis. While uveitis may cause symptoms such as decreased vision, floaters, pain, redness, or light sensitivity, in patients with JIA there are usually NO symptoms. The inflammation found in the front part of the eye is detectable only with a special instrument called a slit-lamp. For this reason it is very important to have routine eye exams by an ophthalmologist (a medical doctor who specializes in treating diseases of the eye) to check for iritis.
If untreated, inflammation can cause glaucoma, cataract formation, calcium deposits in the cornea (band keratopathy), swelling in the retina (macular edema), and swelling of the optic nerve (papillitis). These problems can result in decreased vision and even blindness. See figure 1 for an example of band keratopathy on the corneal surface associated with chronic iritis.
Corticosteroid eye drops are the most common medicine prescribed to treat uveitis and are the mainstay of treatment. Corticosteroids work by decreasing the reaction of the immune system. When applied in drop form, the effect is only in the eye itself. Other eye drops are usually given to help dilate the pupil to relieve discomfort. Corticosteroids may also be given systemically or as an injection around the eye if the eye drops alone are not adequate. A rheumatologist may also treat JIA with systemic medications which can help both the iritis as well as the arthritis.
It may, It is important to have regular eye examinations with an ophthalmologist at the recommended intervals. The frequency of these eye exams will be determined by your ophthalmologist and rheumatologist.
JIA is best treated utilizing a team approach. The primary care physician often enlists the help of medical doctors with subspecialty training and expertise to treat children with JIA. These include a rheumatologist, an orthopedic surgeon, and an ophthalmologist.
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