What’s the Difference Between Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis?

What’s the Difference Between Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis?
What’s the Difference Between Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis?

While both rheumatoid arthritis and juvenile idiopathic arthritis are inflammatory diseases of the joints, they are distinct illnesses with different long-term prognoses.

The most frequent type of joint ailment affecting children and teens is juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). Formerly, it was known as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.

Medical experts altered the terminology to "idiopathic," which denotes that the precise aetiology of this ailment is unknown, to avoid confusion with adult rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

JIA is an autoimmune reaction that happens when a child's immune system unintentionally targets their joints.

Approximately 1 in every 1,000 children under the age of 16 suffers from JIA. One or more joints may have discomfort and edoema as a result. There is a minimum of six weeks of symptoms.

While JIA has no known cure, therapy can help control symptoms. JIA may experience remission under certain situations.

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis types:
JIA comes in six primary varieties:
  • Oligoarthritis: The most prevalent kind can impact up to four joints.
  • Polyarthritis: At least five joints are affected by this type. This form affects about 25% of youngsters with JIA and can progress to RA.
  • Systemic: This kind of affects the skin, organs, and joints throughout the body.
  • Psoriatic arthritis (PsA): Juvenile PsA results in a scaly rash that affects the skin and joints.
  • Enthesitis-related (ERA): ERA affects the areas where ligaments, tendons, and muscles join to bones; it is more frequent in boys.
  • Undifferentiated: At least one joint is impacted by this type, yet symptoms aren't necessarily the same as with other types.

Is juvenile idiopathic arthritis the same as rheumatoid arthritis?

Even though they are both forms of inflammatory arthritis, RA and JIA are not the same illness.

A kid must be under 16 years old and have inflammation in at least one joint for longer than six weeks to be diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA).

Adults with RA experience inflammatory pain in several joints. Although there are six kinds of JIA, RA is a particular illness.

The symptoms of RA can be persistent and lifelong. Many children with JIA go through phases of remission after receiving treatment.

Growth issues could result from JIA if the bones around inflamed joints grow too slowly or fast. This could cause one leg to be shorter than the other, for instance. These issues are not brought on by RA because adult bones are completely developed.

Below is a summary of the distinctions between RA and JIA:

affects children younger than 16 years oldaffects adults
6 typessingle condition
may go into remissionmay be chronic and last a lifetime
may cause growth problemsbut does not affect bone development

Does juvenile idiopathic arthritis turn into rheumatoid arthritis?

For children with polyarthritis that is positive for rheumatoid factor (RF), the likelihood of JIA developing into RA is higher. This indicates that their blood had a positive RF test.

RF is a protein your immune system manufactures. RF may target healthy cells that it believes to be foreign objects. elevated RF readings could be a sign of an autoimmune condition like RA or JIA.

What are the symptoms of juvenile idiopathic arthritis?

Joint discomfort from both JIA and RA may get worse after waking up or from spending a lot of time in one position. Depending on the type of JIA, there may be additional symptoms.

Common signs and symptoms of RA and all forms of JIA include:
  • joint stiffness
  • swollen, discolored, warm, or tender joints
  • dry eyes
  • fatigue
  • fever
Additional signs that children with JIA may experience include:
  • blurred vision
  • loss of appetite
  • rash
Oligoarthritis JIA is associated with an increased incidence of inflammatory eye diseases, including uveitis and iritis. Since symptoms like light sensitivity and eye pain can cause vision loss and damage to the eyes, they must be treated immediately.

Inflammation and swelling of the lymph nodes may occur with systemic JIA. There are instances when this swelling spreads to the internal organs.

What is the treatment for juvenile idiopathic arthritis?

Typically, medicines, physical and occupational therapy, and lifestyle modifications are used in the treatment of RA and JIA.

These therapies seek to reduce pain, halt joint deterioration, and enhance quality of life.

Treatment for JIA may vary depending on its nature and severity.

The following drugs are used to treat RA and JIA:
  • DMARDs, or disease-modifying antirheumatic medications, like methotrexate, stop the immune system from attacking joints.
  • biologics, like tocilizumab (Actemra) and abatacept (Orencia), which may interact with the immune system more swiftly than DMARDs
  • Painkillers available over-the-counter or through prescription, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen (Advil)
Occupational therapy and physical therapy may also be recommended by a physician. These treatments teach patients with RA or JIA how to carry out daily duties and strengthen their muscles, among other things that will enhance their quality of life.

A mostly Mediterranean diet and frequent exercise are two lifestyle choices that may help people control their RA or JIA symptoms.

What is the outlook for people with juvenile idiopathic arthritis?

The Arthritis Foundation states that the prognosis for kids with JIA has greatly improved as a result of modern therapies including biologic medications.

According to a 2017 systematic study, 47% of children with JIA obtained remission within ten years, compared to 7% who did so within 18 months.

The type of JIA, however, may have an impact on the long-term outlook.

For instance, the most frequent kind of JIA in children, oligoarthritis, has the highest probability of remission and a lower likelihood of developing RA in adulthood.

The least likely group of patients to experience remission is children with RF-positive polyarthritis. Their JIA could turn into RA as they age.


Does JIA go away?

Since JIA is a chronic illness, it might linger for several months or even years. Remission is the term for when the symptoms simply go away while receiving therapy. Remission can continue for a person's entire lifetime, months, or years. Many teenagers with JIA experience little to no chronic joint damage when they eventually reach full remission.

Is JIA a lifelong disease?

While JIA can have a brief duration, such as a few months or years, in certain instances it is a chronic illness that needs to be treated well into adulthood.

Is juvenile arthritis serious?

Joints may sustain physical harm from childhood arthritis. This harm may result in a disability and make it difficult for the youngster to do daily tasks like walking or clothing.

Can JIA cause blindness?

Even in the absence of symptoms, inflammation can do significant harm to the eye and result in irreversible vision loss. Patients with JIA must undergo frequent eye exams to monitor for iritis due to the increased risk of eye injury.


Different inflammatory arthritis disorders include JIA and RA. JIA diagnoses are limited to children under the age of sixteen.

JIA may experience remission, although RA may be a permanent illness. Medication and physical therapy are typically used in the treatment of both disorders to avoid joint deterioration and enhance quality of life.

Children with JIA may do better if treatment is started as soon as feasible.

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