What is JIA?

Children and young people get arthritis too!

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) is a chronic, long-term condition characterised by pain associated with swelling and restricted movement of joints.

JIA is an autoimmune condition, which means that the immune system malfunctions and attacks the body's organs and tissues, in this case the joints.

JIA affects 1 out of every 1000 children under the age of 16. This is where ‘juvenile’ comes from - because symptoms usually occur before the age of 16 years. ‘Idiopathic' means that we do not know the cause of the condition.

There are several different forms of JIA, with different severities. They are mainly distinguished by the number of joints affected (e.g oligoarticular JIA – less than 5 joints, or polyarticular JIA – 5 or more joints) and by the presence of additional symptoms, e.g. systemic JIA - with a fever and/or rash. Diagnosis of the different forms is made by observing the symptoms during the first 6 months of the condition. The eyes of children and young people with JIA can also be affected by inflammation. This is known as uveitis. Therefore,it’s important that children and young people have regular eye examinations.

Since children are also growing, it is important to prevent damage to the joints and bones with the aid of appropriate treatment. Treatment and support should aim to address the physical, psychological and social health of every child or young person.

Find out more on the PRINTO website.