Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), also commonly referred to as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA), is an inflammatory condition that affects young people under the age of 16. It is an autoimmune disorder with no known cause.
As with forms of arthritis that affect adults, JIA causes inflammation in the joints or, sometimes, in the spine and ligaments. When the joints are involved, swelling or problems with mobility may be the only signs of this disorder. For example, in a young child the first signs of this condition may be a limp. Because young people are still growing, joint damage that may inhibit growth is a particular concern. JIA can be associated with other complications, such as eye inflammation. This is a serious condition that is not easy to detect because it often occurs with no clear symptoms, but can lead to blindness.
Children with JIA may be affected anywhere from a few months to a whole lifetime. It is important that children and adolescents with JIA be assessed by a pediatric rheumatologist.