I am a parent or carer
Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) is a long-term condition. It means that there is inflammation in one or more joints, which is not caused by an infection or injury. Symptoms begin before the age of 16.
Children with JIA have inflamed joints.
Their joints are sometimes swollen or warm to the touch, but sometimes inflammation is hard to spot.
Their joints may be painful, and they may have reduced mobility and stiffness (particularly in the morning).
Some children and young people change how they move to avoid pain.
With younger children it can be difficult to tell if joints are painful or if your child is able to move them less than they could, so a general rule is to look for change: Is your child now not able to do something that they could before (such as sitting on the floor, walking, writing with a pencil)? If so, it could be because their joints are sore or less mobile.
Children with JIA can also develop uveitis, which is inflammation inside the eye. There are often no symptoms, but uveitis can cause permanent sight loss. It is very important that children who have JIA have specialist eye tests that can detect uveitis.
Research* has found that there is a much higher incidence of arthritis amongst children with Down Syndrome (Trisomy 21), with as many as 1 in 50 children with Down Syndrome having a form of arthritis called 'Down Syndrome Associated Arthritis'. This leaflet from Childrens Health Ireland gives further information, including some of the signs and symptoms to look out for. As with other forms of childhood arthritis, the key message is if you have any concerns speak to your GP or family doctor and ask for a referral to paediatric rheumatology.
Download a copy of My JIA, a comprehensive guide to life with JIA, packed full of information for that will help you and your child on your own journey with JIA. It includes a section about schools, so be sure to share a copy with your child's school so they know how they can support your child.