Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, also known as JRA, is considered a disease of the autoimmune system. Although no one cause has been determined as the cause of the disease in babies as young as six months to teens as old as 15, there are specific symptoms. An early diagnosis of these symptoms helps significantly in starting early treatment.
When pain, stiffness and swelling occurs in five or fewer joints of the body, the condition is called Oligoarticular JRA. This type of the disease is usually noticed because the iris of the eye becomes inflamed. Polyarticular Arthritis is the second type, more often affecting girls and causing swelling and pain in the small joints of the hand as well as the neck, hips, knees, ankles and feet. The third type of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis is systemic JRA and affects all of the body's joints with stiffness, pain and swelling, along with sudden high fevers and intermittent rashes.
If children complain of any of the symptoms of JRA, a complete medical examination by a physician is warranted. Tests may include x-rays, a complete blood count, examination of the bone marrow and tests that can determine whether or not the Rheumatoid factor or other antibodies are present in the blood, which is a distinguishing sign of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Once the symptoms have been diagnosed as being caused by some type of JRA, an effective treatment program can commence. This might include injections of corticosteriod medication directly into the body's joints, surgery, physical therapy or gentle exercise. Eating a diet rich in calcium to strengthen the bones has also been found to be effective in the treatment of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis.