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Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis - What Happens

The course of juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) is unpredictable, especially during the first few years after a child is diagnosed. JIA can be mild, causing few problems. It can get worse or disappear without clear reason. Over time, the pattern of symptoms becomes more predictable. Most children have good and bad days.

Of all children who have JIA, 3 or 4 out of 10 children will have long-term disability.1 Long-term disability may range from occasional stiffness, the need for pain medicine, and limits on physical activity to ongoing JIA and the need for major surgery such as joint replacement. But for most adults who had JIA as children, any long-term problems tend to be mild and don't affect their overall quality of life.

A child's long-term outlook depends on the type of JIA he or she has. For example, while a child with oligoarticular JIA has a good long-term outlook other than eye disease risk, a child with polyarticular JIA or systemic JIA has a greater chance of long-term problems.2

Treatment also affects the child's long-term outlook. If treatment is started early, there is less long-term disability, and the tissues may heal over time.2

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