Juvenile Arthritis

Background:

Arthritis is a complex family of musculoskeletal disorders consisting of more than 100 different diseases or conditions that destroy joints, bones, muscles, cartilage and other connective tissues, hampering or halting physical movement. Juvenile arthritis (JA) is an umbrella term used to describe the many autoimmune and inflammatory conditions that can develop in children ages 16 and younger.

Arthritis typically affects joints — the word “arthritis” literally means joint inflammation: arth (joint) and itis (inflammation) — but JA can involve the eyes, skin and gastrointestinal tract as well.
 
In addition, there are several different types of juvenile arthritis. As JA’s prevalence rises, researchers and doctors alike are working to develop a more sophisticated understanding of the differences between the different forms.
 
The most common type of JA is juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). To receive a diagnosis, a child should be younger than 16 and have initial swelling in one or more joints for at least six weeks.
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