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What are the Symptoms of Juvenile Arthritis?

written by: R. Elizabeth C. Kitchen • edited by: Donna Cosmato • updated: 8/31/2010

Does your child suffer from juvenile arthritis? If so, read on to learn more about the symptoms of juvenile arthritis.

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    The symptoms of juvenile arthritis vary greatly. In the United States, it is estimated that about 250,000 children under 16 years of age are affected by this condition. When a child is experiencing joint swelling for at least six weeks, he or she could have this condition.

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    How Do the Symptoms Occur?

    Juvenile arthritis will come and go. Patients will experience flare-ups, followed by periods of remission. Flare-ups can last for months, or for just a few days. As time passes and the patient experiences more flare-ups, joint damage occurs and can result in joint deformation. The symptoms will depend on which of the four types of juvenile arthritis a patient has.

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    Overall Symptoms

    Regardless of the type, the symptoms are very similar, and in many cases, the same. The symptoms of juvenile arthritis include:

    • Tissue damage
    • Joint damage
    • Bone growth and development
    • Joint pain
    • Joint swelling
    • Irritability
    • Fatigue
    • Lymph node swelling
    • Inflamed joints
    • Joints warm to the touch
    • Weakening of soft tissues and muscles around the joints
    • Light pink rash
    • High fever
    • One arm or leg longer than the other
    • Iridocyclitis
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    Pauciarticular

    This type only affects a few joints. About 50 percent of children that have this condition have this type. It affects girls under the age of eight most often. The knees and ankles are most often affected, but it is usually only one knee or one ankle. The wrist, and bones in the toes and fingers can also be affected. It is not uncommon for eye inflammation to occur, which can possibly result in blindness, especially when the child does not regularly see an ophthalmologist.

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    Polyarticular

    This types affects approximately 30 percent of children. Girls are affected more often. This type affects a minimum of five joints and often more and the joints affected are usually on the same side of the body. The large joints can also be affected.

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    Systemic

    This type affects approximately 20 percent of patients. This type causes pain, rash, limited motion in one joint or more, swelling, and internal organ inflammation, such as the liver, lymph nodes, heart, and spleen. A fever of 102 degrees Fahrenheit every day for at least two weeks is necessary for diagnosis.

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    Spondyloarthropathy

    This type is most common in boys eight years of age and older. It usually begins by affecting the joints in the lower extremeties and their adjacent tendon attachment. As the disease progresses, the lower spine, referred to as the lumbar spine, could become involved. Eye inflammation can also occur, where they are sore and red. Though uncommon, chronic eye damage is possible.

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    Psoriatic

    This type isn't often included in the type of this condition, but children can develop it. Children with a family history for psoriasis are at risk. This type is very similar to both the polyarticular and pauciarticular types. Eventually, children will develop the rash and sometimes fingernail ridges or pits.

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    Resources

    American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. (2007). Juvenile Arthritis. Retrieved on August 25, 2010 from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00075

    Penn State Children's Hospital. (2006). Juvenile Arthritis. Retrieved on August 25, 2010 from Penn State Children's Hospital: http://www.hmc.psu.edu/childrens/healthinfo/jkl/juvenilearthritis.htm