What Causes Juvenile Rheumatoid (Idiopathic) Arthritis ~ Health Guide

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What Causes Juvenile Rheumatoid (Idiopathic) Arthritis

Written by Mystic on Monday, January 21, 2008

It may begin with a swollen knuckle, a spiking fever, or an unexplainable rash. But no matter what symptoms appear; hearing the word "arthritis" used, as a diagnosis for your child can be unexpected and confusing.

Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints that is characterized by swelling, heat, and pain. It can be short-term or chronic. In rare cases, it can last a lifetime. Juvenile arthritis, or JA, is the term used for all the types of arthritis that affect children. Although we often associate this disorder with the elderly, many forms of arthritis afflict children. The most prevalent form of juvenile arthritis is juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, or JRA

What Causes Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

The medical community doesn't know exactly what causes rheumatoid arthritis (also referred to as idiopathic arthritis) in children. Research indicates that it is an autoimmune disease. In autoimmune diseases, white blood cells lose the ability to tell the difference between the body's own healthy cells and tissues and the harmful invaders like bacteria and viruses. The immune system, which is supposed to protect the body from these harmful invaders, instead releases chemicals that can damage healthy tissues and cause inflammation and pain.

To effectively manage and minimize the effects of arthritis, an early and accurate diagnosis is essential. There are several types of JRA. Understanding the symptoms and characteristics of these subtypes of JRA is the first step you can take in helping your child to maintain an active, productive lifestyle.

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