Juvenile Arthritis

What is juvenile arthritis?

Juvenile arthritis isn’t one condition, but is the general name for many types of arthritis that can occur in children. Arthritis is characterized by swelling of the joints. It can cause pain, stiffness and loss of motion. Some types of juvenile arthritis can also involve the skin, muscles, eyes and gastrointestinal tract.

The severity of juvenile arthritis depends on the several factors, including which type is present.

What are the types of juvenile arthritis?

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) is the umbrella term for several subtypes of arthritis seen in children and adolescents under the age of 16. JIA is arthritis with no known cause (this is what “idiopathic” means), to distinguish it from infectious forms of childhood arthritis. There are six main subtypes of JIA:

  • Oligoarticular JIA: arthritis that involves four joints or fewer
  • Polyarticular JIA: arthritis that involves five or more joints
  • Systemic arthritis: begins with fevers, rashes and inflammation in other parts of the body as well as the joints 
  • Psoriatic Arthritis: inflammation of the joints that occurs in some children with psoriasis (a skin condition)
  • Enthesitis-Related Arthritis: arthritis associated with enthesitis, which is inflammation of the entheses, the places where tendons and ligaments attach to bones
  • Undifferentiated JIA: a type that doesn’t fit into any one of the categories above

Other types of juvenile arthritis include:

  • Septic arthritis: arthritis caused by an infection of the joint 
  • Lupus: a chronic autoimmune condition that can have arthritis as a feature
  • Juvenile dermatomyositis: a chronic autoimmune condition that can occasionally have arthritis as a feature
  • Enteropathic arthritis: a type of arthritis that can occur with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

How we care for juvenile arthritis

At the Boston Children’s Hospital Rheumatology Program, our team of pediatric rheumatologists specializes in diagnosing and treating all types of inflammatory disorders, including juvenile arthritis. We are also recognized internationally for the evaluation of unique and undiagnosed rheumatologic conditions.

Paired with our clinical expertise is a commitment to ensure that our care is informed by the latest research, and we are dedicated to educating our patients and their families about their condition and its treatment.