Symptoms of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis

What Are the Symptoms?

JIA is a long-term (chronic) inflammatory condition caused when a child’s own immune cells attack their joints. Symptoms are:

  • Pain, swelling or stiffness in the joints, especially in the morning. Joints typically feel warm to the touch
  • Loss of appetite or loss of weight
  • Feeling very tired or rundown (fatigue)
  • Limping. A younger child may stop wanting to use their feet
  • High fever and skin rash (systemic JIA)
  • Swelling in the lymph nodes in the neck or other parts of the body
Symptoms for Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis_Kids With Arthritis

JIA can also cause bones to grow unevenly.

The signs and symptoms of JIA often change over time. In many cases, symptoms improve as the child gets older, and some children may become symptom free (full remission).

Most people have flexible joints. The ends of the bone inside joints are protected from wear and tear by healthy cartilage – a hard, shiny plastic-like material. Healthy cartilage is important, it keeps joints moving smoothly, and also helps muscles, tendons and ligaments do their jobs. Cartilage is also protected by synovial fluid that “oils” it and keeps it healthy. The joint is surrounded by a capsule with a thin smooth lining (the synovium) that keeps the fluid in place.

In JIA, the joint lining becomes inflamed and thickened, and synovial fluid may build up inside the capsule, which adds to the swelling. The inflamed joint lining may produce chemicals that damage the bone and cartilage in the joint. This inflammation of the joints (or of other parts of the body) can be painful, and sometimes disabling.