Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis - A Guide for Parents

Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis – A Guide for Parents

Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) is an inflammatory disease of the joints that affects children and adolescents. It is an autoimmune disease and symptoms can range from swelling and pain to problems with growth and development.

Parents play a crucial role in managing this condition, and this guide offers answers to common questions they may have.



  1. Frequently asked questions for parents
  2. How can parents help their children?
  3. Can juvenile arthritis be temporary?


Frequently asked questions for parents

When faced with the diagnosis of a condition such as Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, parents are often faced with a lot of questions and uncertainties. In this segment of our article, we aim to address those frequent questions that arise in the minds of parents when their children are diagnosed with this complex condition.

From the nature of the disease and ways of diagnosis to treatment options and implications for daily life, together we will explore the answers that can bring clarity and understanding to this medical journey.

It is important that parents feel informed and prepared to support their children adequately, and the answers to these essential questions will provide a useful guide in this direction.

  • What is Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA)?

Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis is a form of arthritis that affects children and adolescents, characterized by inflammation of the joints and sometimes other organs. The exact cause is unknown, and the term “idiopathic” indicates that there is no obvious cause of the disease.

  • What are the symptoms of JIA in children?

Symptoms can vary, but common ones include swelling, persistent joint pain, morning stiffness, muscle weakness, and difficulty performing certain movements. It is important to note any unusual changes in your child’s behavior or activities.

  • How is JIA diagnosed in children?

The diagnosis of JIA often involves close collaboration between medical specialists, including pediatric rheumatologists. Medical examination, physical examinations, and blood tests can be used to confirm the diagnosis and rule out other causes of the symptoms.

  • What are the treatment options for children with JIA?

Treatment may include anti-inflammatory drugs, physical and occupational therapy, and in some cases, immune-modulating drugs. It is important to discuss the benefits and risks of each treatment option with your medical team.

  • What is involved in the daily management of JIA in the family?

For parents, day-to-day management of JIA may include taking medications regularly, attending physical or occupational therapy sessions, and closely monitoring symptoms. Open and honest communication with the child is also essential.

  • How does AIJ affect children’s school and social life?

JIA can bring additional challenges to children’s school and social life. Parents should work together with teachers and other professionals to ensure an appropriate and supportive learning and socializing environment.

  • What is the long-term outlook for children with JIA?

The long-term outlook varies depending on the severity of the disease. With appropriate treatment and effective management, many children with JIA can lead active and healthy lives. Regular medical monitoring is essential to detect and manage potential complications.

Frequently asked questions for parents

How can parents help their children?

For parents who have children diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA), appropriate support and care play a critical role in managing the disease and ensuring the children’s quality of life. Here are some ways parents can help their children in this situation:

1. Education and Information

Understand as much as you can about JIA, treatment and symptom management. The more informed you are, the better informed decisions you will be able to make regarding your child’s health.

2. Open Communication

Establish open communication with your child. Encourage him to share his feelings and thoughts about the illness. An open relationship will make it easier to manage emotions and anxieties.

3. Involvement in Treatment

Actively participate in the treatment plan established by the medical team. Make sure medications are taken as prescribed and that recommended therapies are followed regularly.

4. Promoting Healthy Lifestyle

Encourage a healthy lifestyle with an emphasis on a balanced diet and adequate physical activity. Ask the doctor about the right exercise for your child and create a program that fits his needs.

5. Monitoring Symptoms

Be aware of changes in your child’s symptoms and communicate this information to the doctor. Regular health monitoring will help to adjust the treatment plan according to the evolution of the disease.

6. Psychological Support

Provide emotional and psychological support to your child. It may also be helpful to involve counselors or therapists to provide additional assistance in managing emotions related to the illness.

7. Coordination with the School and Other Professionals

Communicate with teachers and school staff to ensure an appropriate learning environment for your child. Involve specialists, such as physical or occupational therapists, to support the child’s development in all aspects.

8. Encourage Autonomy

Encourage your child to be independent as much as possible. Give him opportunities to develop his skills and assume responsibilities within the limitations imposed by the illness.

9. Managing Family Stress

Every member of the family can be affected by JIA, so it is important to manage family stress. Find support in the community and share experiences with other parents who are going through similar situations.

Essentially, active involvement, emotional support and effective treatment management are the keys to helping children with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis lead as normal and healthy lives as possible.

How can parents help their children

Can juvenile arthritis be temporary?

Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) can have different evolutions depending on the specific form of the disease. In most cases, JIA is not a temporary condition and requires long-term management. However, there are also situations where the symptoms may disappear completely or be effectively controlled with treatment, allowing the child to lead an active and healthy life.

There are three main types of JIA, depending on the number of joints affected and other clinical characteristics:

  • Oligoarticular JIA (affects less than 5 joints): Some cases of oligoarticular JIA may go into remission, meaning complete disappearance of symptoms. However, it is important to note that in some cases the disease may recur or occur in other joints even after a period of remission.
  • Polyarticular JIA (affects more than 5 joints): This form can be persistent and requires long-term management. However, proper treatment can help control symptoms and prevent long-term complications.
  • Rheumatoid factor-negative and rheumatoid factor-positive JIA: These forms may have different courses and may require customized treatment strategies.

It is important to emphasize that the individual prognosis of a child with JIA can vary depending on several factors, including the specific form of the disease, the response to treatment, as well as the involvement of other organs in the inflammatory process. Early treatment and effective disease management can significantly improve the quality of life of children affected by Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis. Always consult the doctor for evaluation and recommendations specific to your child.

Treatment for Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis

Treatment for Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis

The doctor who is specializes in pediatric rheumatology is the one who will recommend a treatment for Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis. This treatment aims to reduce swelling, maintain good movement in the affected joints, reduce pain, treat and prevent complications.

The fundamental measures of the treatment for Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis include: the hygienic-dietary regime, the drug therapy, non-pharmacological means, the musculoskeletal recovery and the growth, the psycho-social integration.


  1. Drugs
  2. Intra-articular cortisone injections
  3. Orthopedic surgery
  4. Rehabilitation
  5. Hygienic-dietary measures
  6. Daily exercise schedule
  7. Alternative medicine
  8. Physiotherapy



  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including ibuprofen and naproxen and other prescription drugs, are often the first type of medication used. Most doctors do not treat children with aspirin because it could cause bleeding problems, stomach upset, liver problems or Reye’s syndrome.
  • Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) are often used if nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs do not provide enough benefits.
  • Corticosteroids, such as prednisone, can help severely ill children. These medications can reduce severe symptoms, such as pericarditis.
  • Biological drugs, which are genetically engineered, can be used in children if other drugs do not work. Injectable forms include adalimumab, abatacept, tocilizumab, etanercept and canakinumab. They suppress the hyperactive immune system, targeting proteins that trigger inflammation.


Intra-articular cortisone injections

They are used when few joints are involved and when there is a risk of long-term damage. The injected drug is a long-acting cortisone preparation. Triamcinolone hexacetonide is preferred for its prolonged effect (often several months).


Orthopedic surgery

The main procedures are joint prostheses (replacement in case of joint destruction) and surgical release of soft tissues (in case of permanent contractures).



This is an essential component of treatment. It includes proper exercise and, where necessary, wearing splints to correct posture.

Rehabilitation therapy should be started early and should be performed throughout the disease to maintain joint mobility, trophicity and muscle strength as well as to prevent, limit or correct deformities.


Hygienic-dietary measures

Bed rest is imposed only by acute manifestations, disabling polyarticular forms and extraarticular complications. Otherwise, the child will be hospitalized as soon as possible and will lead a life as normal as possible.

It is necessary to analyze the nutritional intake and vitamin supplementation, in particular attention should be paid to improving or preventing bone loss through adequate intake of dairy, calcium-containing vegetables, mobilization, exercise and suppression of inflammation.


Daily exercise schedule

It is important to maintain a regular exercise program. Muscles must be kept strong and healthy in order to help support and protect the joints. Regular physical activity also helps maintain range of motion.

At home and at school, the little one should have regular exercise programs. Safe activities include walking, swimming and cycling. Make sure the little one does warm-up moves before making an effort.


Alternative medicine

Some alternative or complementary approaches, such as acupuncture, can help a child manage the stress of living with an ongoing illness. It can reduce the need for sedatives and can stimulate the flexibility of the affected joints, but it does not prevent damage.



An adequate physical therapy program is essential for the management of any type of arthritis. A physiotherapist will explain the importance of certain activities and will recommend exercises appropriate to the specific condition. The therapist may recommend movement exercises to restore flexibility in stiff, painful joints and other exercises to help develop strength and endurance.


Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis: causes, symptoms, treatment

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) is a characterized chronic disease by persistent inflammation of the joints. Typical signs of joint inflammation are: pain, swelling and limited movement. “Idiopathic” means that we do not know the cause of the disease and “juvenile”, in this case, means that the symptoms appear before the age of 16.

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) is one of the many rheumatic diseases encountered in childhood and affects between 80 and 90 children in 100,000. It is a chronic disease that mainly affects the joints (dominant lesion) but not only.

Many people are surprised when they find out that even at this age there are rheumatic diseases because in their acceptance these diseases appear only in the third decade of life. JIA is not a single disease but several diseases – 7 in number gathered under the same name and have in common joint damage.


  1. Causes
  2. Symptoms
  3. Treatment

What are the causes of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis?

Our immune system protects us from infections (viruses and bacteria). In this action he is able to distinguish harmless cells that belong to our body (which he tolerates) from foreign and potentially dangerous cells (he destroys them).

Chronic arthritis is thought to be a consequence of the abnormal response of our immune system, which, for unknown reasons, loses some of its ability to distinguish between normal and dangerous cells.

Following this abnormal response, the body attacks its own joint components, which leads to chronic arthritis. For this reason, diseases such as JIA are called autoimmune, which means that the immune system reacts against the body’s own organs.

However, the exact mechanisms that produce chronic human inflammatory diseases (including JIA) are unknown.

What are the symptoms of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis?

Initially, it appears as an inflammatory reaction in the synovials (probably as an immune response to an infection), followed by proliferative synovial damage and destruction of cartilage.

ARJ is characterized by chronic synovitis and extraarticular systemic manifestations:

  • Arthritis: disabling joint deformities (due to inflammation of the joint space and joint swelling); local pain varying in intensity, difficult to diagnose in young children; limiting joint movements
  • Morning joint stiffness: it is characteristic, but difficult to detect in young children; it is improved by sitting before standing or by warm local applications (warm compresses, warm baths)
  • Growth disorders by stature growth retardation
  • Altered general condition, due to cardiovascular damage

What is the treatment of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis?

There is no specific therapy to cure JIA. The aim of the treatment is to allow the children to lead a normal life and to prevent damage to the joints and organs, while waiting for the spontaneous remission of the disease. Treatment is mainly based on the use of drugs that inhibit inflammation and on rehabilitation procedures that preserve joint function and help prevent deformities.

The therapy is complex and requires the cooperation of several specialists (eg rheumatologists, pediatricians, orthopedic surgeons, physiotherapists, ophthalmologists).

1) Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
These are symptomatic anti-inflammatory and antipyretic drugs (control fever). The term “symptomatic” means that they cannot cause remission of the disease, but serve to control the symptoms caused by inflammation. The most commonly used are ibuprofen and naproxen.

Aspirin, although effective and inexpensive, is less used nowadays because of the risk of toxicity. NSAIDs are usually well tolerated and gastric discomfort (effect secondary more common in adults) is less common in children. A NSAID does not prescribe two NSAIDs at the same time, but one NSAID may be effective if another has failed. The optimal effect on joint inflammation occurs after a few weeks of treatment.

2) Intra-articular cortisone injections
They are used thenwhen few joints are involved and when there is a risk of long-term damage. The injected drug is a long-acting cortisone preparation. Triamcinolone hexacetonide is preferred for its prolonged effect (often several months).

3) The drugs from the second stage
They are prescribed for children with progressive polyarthritis, despite appropriate therapy with NSAIDs and intra-articular cortisone. Medicines in this category are added to NSAID therapy, which must therefore be continued.

4) Corticosteroids
These are the most effective anti-inflammatory drugs available, but their use is limited because long-term use induces several important side effects, including osteoporosis and stopping growth. They are, however, valuable for the treatment of systemic symptoms that are resistant to other treatments, for life-threatening systemic complications, and for controlling the acute phase of JIA while waiting for stage II drugs to take effect.

Topical steroids (eye drops) are used in the treatment of iridocyclitis. In more severe cases, injection of cortisone around the eyes or systemic administration of steroids may be required.

5) Orthopedic surgeries
The main procedures are joint prostheses (replacement in case of joint destruction) and surgical release of soft tissues (in case of permanent contractures).

6) Rehabilitation
This is an essential component of treatment. It includes proper exercise and, where necessary, wearing splints to correct posture. Rehabilitation therapy should be started early and should be performed throughout the disease to maintain joint mobility, trophicity and muscle strength as well as to prevent, limit or correct deformities.