Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis Diagnosis

Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis

JIA can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms can differ between children, and they can appear like other childhood illnesses. If it is suspected, your doctor will refer your child to a specialist in juvenile arthritis, being a Paediatric Rheumatologist.

A child must have inflammation in one or more joints lasting at least six weeks, be under 16 years old and have all other conditions ruled out before being diagnosed with JIA.
The specialist will:

Some tests may be repeated over time. This allows the specialist to track changes in your child’s symptoms. It is important to do this so the correct diagnosis is made. The specialist will then make sure your child receives the most appropriate treatment for the type of arthritis that they have.

Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis Diagnosis_Kids With Arthritis

Laboratory tests

The doctor may order blood tests that look for certain proteins and chemicals found in some people with arthritis. These tests include:

Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR, or “sed rate”) & C-reactive protein tests
High ESR rates and CRP levels signal severe inflammation in the body. The higher the ESR is, the more inflammation in the bloodstream.
Antinuclear antibody (ANA) test
A positive ANA test is associated with many types of arthritis, but children without JIA may also have a positive ANA. ANA is an important indicator for the child’s risk of developing eye problems.
Rheumatoid factor (RF) test
May show up in children with polyarthritis. An antibody detected by a blood test.
HLA-B27 typing (a genetic marker)
The HLA-B27 gene is associated with enthesitis-related types of arthritis, such ankylosing spondylitis.
Full blood count (FBC)
This is a blood test to check for anything abnormal. Raised levels of white blood cells and decreased levels of red blood cells is linked to certain types of arthritis. Haemoglobin: shows whether or not the child is anaemic. Platelets: can increase with inflammation.
The doctor may order imaging tests, such as X-rays, ultrasound and MRI or CT scans, to look for signs of joint damage.

View the KWANZ Diagnosis Video – Click HERE to view the film.

This 4-minute video outlines the process for diagnosis in NZ – basically elimination of what it is not! A helpful starting point in understanding the nature of this childhood condition.