The common misconception that arthritis only happens to older individuals can lead to misdiagnosis in children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 294,000 children under age 18 in the United States have been diagnosed with arthritis or other rheumatic conditions.

Photo of doctor and patient.

When your child is diagnosed with arthritis, you want compassionate care from a team of experts you can count on. The pediatric rheumatologists on our Children’s Health team at MU Children’s Hospital are well-equipped to diagnose and treat these conditions when they affect your child.

Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA)

Commonly called juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA), this disorder occurs in children age 16 or younger. It is estimated that 16,000 children under age 18 in the United States have JRA.

JRA causes:

  • Damage to the growing cartilage and bones
  • Joint swelling
  • Loss of motion
  • Pain
  • Stiffness

This disorder can affect any joint, and in some cases, it can cause inflammation of internal organs, including:

  • Heart
  • Liver
  • Lymph nodes
  • Spleen

JRA can result in:

  • Growth problems
  • Long-term disability
  • Reduced quality of life
  • Uneven length of the arms or legs

MU Health Care pediatric rheumatologists raising awareness about JRA

Our pediatric rheumatologists are on a mission to bring awareness to the symptoms and prevalence of arthritis in children. Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis occurs when a child’s immune system attacks its own cells and tissues. Researchers have not yet determined why it occurs in this manner in children. However, family health history and environment appear to be factors.

One main symptom of JRA is if your child limps in the morning. No child should have stiffness lasting more than ten minutes in the morning. At first, symptoms of JRA can come and go, but early detection is the key for early diagnosis. Bringing your child to see the rheumatology specialists at MU Health Care can help you get your child the care needed to avoid irreversible damage if JRA is left untreated.

Treatments for JRA

Research has shown that early, aggressive treatment can reduce long-term symptoms in patients with JRA. Some children have just one or two flare-ups, while the disease can continue for others into their adult life. Typically, children with JRA have a family history of other autoimmune diseases. The best diagnostic tool is physical examination because lab results can be perfectly normal in JRA.

We offer several different therapies to treat this condition. But, one of the biggest obstacles to children receiving treatment is awareness. Many people just aren’t aware that arthritis can affect children. We hope by raising awareness of pediatric rheumatology diseases like JRA, we can give our children a brighter and more hopeful future.

Experts at MU Health Care Children’s Hospital’s pediatric rheumatology program care for patients with many conditions involving joints, soft tissues, autoimmune diseases, vasculitis (an inflammation of the blood vessels) and genetic connective tissue disorders. To schedule an appointment with our team, please call 573-882-6921.