Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA)

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Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA)

World-Class Experts in Childhood Arthritis Care

Young girl seeing a Nemours physician for Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA).

Arthritis doesn’t just affect adults. Kids — even infants — can get arthritis too. The most common type of juvenile (childhood) arthritis is called “juvenile idiopathic arthritis” (JIA). It’s an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation, swelling, pain and other symptoms in a child’s joints, or throughout the body. At Nemours, our teams of pediatric rheumatologists are recognized for our expert care and research into helping kids with JIA feel their best as they grow.

Learn More About JIA

Types of JIA We Treat

We treat all of the different types of juvenile idiopathic arthritis (sometimes called “juvenile rheumatoid arthritis,” or “JRA”):

  • enthesitis-related arthritis (inflammation where tendons join bones)
  • oligoarthritis (affects four or fewer joints with pain, stiffness or swelling)
  • polyarticular arthritis, rheumatoid factor negative (affects five or more joints and happens in about 1 in 4 kids and teens)
  • polyarticular arthritis, rheumatoid factor positive (the type of JIA that’s most like adult rheumatoid arthritis, with more risk of joint damage)
  • psoriatic arthritis (arthritis in children who also have psoriasis — a scaly red rash that can start behind the ears, on the eyelids, elbows, knees or scalp)
  • systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis (affects the whole body, and may cause fevers, rashes and enlarged spleen and lymph nodes)
  • undifferentiated arthritis (doesn’t fit all of these other types or fits into more than one of these types)

JIA Services We Offer

There’s no cure for JIA yet, but we can help manage your child’s symptoms with medicines and other care. Just like JIA symptoms may be different in every child, there are different ways to care for them too. At Nemours, our team will create a customized treatment plan to meet your child’s specific needs.

We offer a variety of treatment services, which may vary depending on the condition or location, and may include:

  • anti-inflammatory medications (to reduce inflammation and swelling)
  • arthroscopic exams (uses a tiny scope to look inside joints)
  • blood tests and lab work 
  • biofeedback (trains the mind to control pain)
  • biological therapy options (targets individual joints without affecting the whole body, helping to reduce side effects)
  • erythrocyte sedimentation rate, also called “ESR tests” (to track inflammation and manage JIA flare-ups)
  • eye exams (by a board-certified pediatric ophthalmologist, because JIA can affect the eyes without causing symptoms)
  • integrative therapies (like yoga, massage and meditation to reduce pain and help kids relax)
  • intra-articular injections, also called “IA injections” (medication that goes directly into an affected joint to help control inflammation)
  • nutrition guidance (working with registered dietitians to develop a healthy diet) 
  • orthotics (to support mobility and prevent joint damage)
  • physical therapy (to improve strength and mobility)
  • pediatric pain management services (provided by a team to help relieve pain and help kids function)

Why Choose Us for JIA Care

At Nemours, we have an internationally recognized team of pediatric rheumatologists. We’re experts in diagnosing and treating all types of juvenile arthritis and juvenile idiopathic arthritis. And we’re board-certified and fellowship-trained to provide the highest level of care for kids whose bodies are still growing and changing. Many of us are also clinical researchers who have made significant contributions to advancing the understanding of arthritis in kids.  

Regional JIA Highlights

Services, programs and care teams differ at each location. Call for details.

We offer JIA care at Nemours Children’s Hospital, Delaware (Wilmington, Del.). In addition to offering full-service rheumatology care, our group also works with other specialists to care for kids in the Integrated Pain and Wellness Program. This program focuses on overall wellness and combines the expertise of doctors from multiple specialties and a variety of therapies to meet your child’s physical, mental and emotional needs. As a team, we work together to help kids function and feel better — and get them back to doing the activities they love.

At Nemours Children’s Hospital (Orlando), we offer full-service juvenile arthritis care in one place. Our state-of-the-art program is specifically designed to lighten the burden of families seeking treatment for JA and similar conditions. Our program supports families by providing a full team: doctor, nurse, behavioral health specialist, social worker, Child Life specialist and physical therapist.

We may also help support kids and their families through:

  • connections with other families and community/family groups
  • education about the disease process and how to organize medication schedules at home
  • addressing and helping families cope with the emotional toll that juvenile arthritis can have on children and their families
  • access (during clinic days) to dedicated Nemours Associates to help those struggling with school, coping and financial resources
  • PedsAcademy — the world’s first pediatric school program designed to provide kids in hospitals with research-backed, technology-based educational opportunities specific to a child’s disease or condition

We’re able to offer our juvenile arthritis program, thanks in part to a generous donation by the Schott Family in honor of their daughter.

Research & Clinical Trials

At Nemours, we’re actively researching new approaches for childhood disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

KidsHealth Library

Learn more about your child’s medical condition from the experts at Nemours’ KidsHealth.