Useful Links & Resources

Questions About Diagnosis / Symptoms

What might I notice if my child has JIA?

You may notice swollen joint/s, warm joint/s, a new limp, a reluctance to use a limb or even a regression from walking to crawling. Pain is not always a feature and children often adapt movements so it can be difficult to spot. Even many GPs are not aware that it is a diagnosis that should be considered so it may help to raise it with them if you have suspicions.

What do the different subtypes of JIA mean and do they matter?

You may have heard the terms ‘oligoarticular’ or ‘polyarticular’ in relation to your child’s diagnosis. It is easy to get very anxious about which type your child has and what that may mean for them. However, the need to organise children into these groups or subtypes, is more about helping the healthcare professionals know how best to treat your child. Your child may be classed as ‘oligoarticular’ but have one very troublesome joint which is difficult to settle. Or your child may have multiple joints and be classed as ‘polyarticular’ but these joints respond well to medication. Try not to let it worry you too much because the outcome for each individual child is as unique as they are. It is more important to focus on getting the right treatment plan for the symptoms they have at any time and to focus on their overall quality of life.

Can there be active arthritis when you can’t see swelling?

JIA can be a hard condition to understand when you are new to it. It can really help to build a good relationship with your child’s rheumatology team and over time you will learn from them what to expect and how to interpret what your child is experiencing. Not all children/young people display swelling when their arthritis is active (flaring). Your child’s team might look at any restriction of movement or muscle wasting. They will also listen carefully to what you tell them has been happening with your child. They may decide to order a scan (ultrasound or MRI) to help them assess whether there is or has been arthritis. It is important to remember that not all pain, no matter how severe it is, is due to arthritis. Your team are experts in assessing this.

Is there a blood test for arthritis?

No. A diagnosis of JIA is reached by excluding other conditions, by examining the joints and by listening to a history of the child’s symptoms, behaviours and experiences. Bloods can sometimes show if there is inflammation present and can help as part of diagnosis, but they are not a diagnosis in themselves.