Oligoarthritis, also known as pauciarticular Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, or simply JRA, is the most common form of arthritis in children under the age of seventeen. It affects approximately 300,000 children in the United States alone. JRA occurs when the body mistakenly recognizes it's own body tissues as foreign invaders. The immune system then attacks these tissues, which causes swelling or inflammation in the joint linings, and other parts of the body.
This can be incredibly painful, and often causes issues like bone deformities or joints being pushed out of their proper alignments. Other issues can arise, but it depends on which part of the body has been affected by the disease.
Symptoms: General RA & Specific to Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis
JRA shows many of the same symptoms as the general disease affecting the adult population. These common symptoms include issues like pain, swelling, warmth or tenderness in the joints. Fatigue, a low grade fever, weight loss, and stiffness are also common. Inflammation in other parts of the body are present in close to half of the population with RA. This can include the bone marrow, nerve tissue, blood vessels, eyes, skin, lungs, heart, kidneys, and salivary glands.
The disease presents issues specific to patients age seventeen or under, however. This includes issues such as not hitting puberty at the correct time, growth issues, and an inability to thrive.
Another difference is that Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis can present acutely, or for short periods of time. Some patients will experience symptoms for just a matter of months, while others will suffer from the disease throughout the rest of your life. In the general adult population, RA is always present from the point of onset, but will come and go in severity. These peaks or flares are also present in JRA.
Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis Risk Factors & Causes
The cause of JRA is not known, but it is thought to occur from either genetic mutations or else from triggers like viruses (particularly in acute cases). Being a female also puts an individual at a greater risk. Having Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis affect others in your immediate family also puts you at a higher risk, as the disease tends to be genetic.
Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis Diagnosis
A diagnosis of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis will be made through a review of medical history, physical examination, imaging, and blood tests.
An individual's medical history may show complaints of joint pain, eye problems, immediate families with JRA, adult Rheumatoid Arthritis, or other forms of arthritis.
Physical examination may show tender, swelling, and/or warmth in the joints. Patient may also complain of stiffness that is worse in the morning, be running a low-grade fever, and/or suffer fatigue. Small stature, late puberty, or difficulty to thrive may also be present in juveniles.
Imaging may include X-rays or MRIs. Lab tests may include Anti-CCP Antibodies, Complete Blood Count (CBC), C-Reactive Protein, Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR), and a Rheumatoid Factor (RF).
A combination of findings are necessary to provide an accurate diagnosis. Disease which present the same symptoms an individual is suffering from, such as other forms of juvenile arthritis or other autoimmune disease, will also be ruled out.