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Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA)

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How Is Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis Diagnosed?

JRA is often difficult to diagnose. Sometimes children with JRA do not complain of pain. In fact, parents may not be aware of symptoms such as swelling.

Some symptoms of JRA are similar to other serious conditions such as infection, cancer, bone disorders, Lyme disease, and lupus.

Doctors usually go through a series of exams and tests to see if the patient has JRA. During the exam, the doctor will review the family medical history to see if there's a possible genetic link. The doctor will also review the patient's medical history to see how long the child has had symptoms.

In addition, the doctor will do a physical exam to look for joint swelling, rashes, signs of internal organ inflammation, and/ or eye problems. A series of blood tests and joint and tissue fluid tests are also done to check for infection and to confirm the diagnosis.

Lastly, the physician may use X-rays to check for joint damage and signs of inflammation. Also, lab tests are done including ANA, rheumatoid factor, HLA-B27 typing, hemoglobin and blood count testing and urinalysis, and erythrocyte sedimentation rate.

How Is Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis Treated?

Treatment for JRA is essentially the same as for adults with RA. Treatment usually includes medications along with exercise.

The goals of treatment for JRA include:

  • Controlling the inflammatory process
  • Easing pain and swelling.
  • Increasing joint motion and strength.
  • Preventing joint damage and other complications that can occur.

Which Medications Are Used to Treat Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Medications for juvenile rheumatoid arthritis may include:

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

NSAIDs are used to reduce pain, fever, and inflammation.

NSAIDs are given through a liquid or pill. These drugs are typically taken from one to four times a day. Some common NSAIDs on the market are naproxen (Naprosyn), ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil), tolmentin, and aspirin.

While NSAIDs may help ease pain and inflammation, they also have side effects. Some common side effects include stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, headache, and anemia. Sometimes the doctor will give another stomach-protecting medication to take with the NSAIDs to reduce the risk of stomach bleeding.

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