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Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis
(RH005)

Introduction


Chronic arthritis in childhood is not a single entity but a heterogeneous group of disorders. The term juvenile chronic arthritis (JCA) had been common in Europe while Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA) was used in North America. In 1997, these terms were discarded for a broader, universal term, Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA). JIA defines arthritis beginning at less than 16 years of age and persisting for at least 6 weeks and with no known cause.

Rheumatoid factor positive polyarthritis (with RF testing positive on at lest two occasions three months apart) include approximately 10% of children with polyarticular JIA. The majority of affected children are adolescent girls who develop symmetrical polyarthritis affectingmany joints but usually including the small joints of their hands. This will frequently progress to an erosive arthropathy with a disease course similar to that of adult rheumatoid arthritis. This is essentially early onset 'adult-type' rheumatoid arthritis.

As with adults, treatment of Juvenile Arthritis is aimed at controlling inflammation and minimizing its effects on the joints. Localized joint problems can be minimized by good early control of the inflammatory process. Drug treatment is combined with physical therapy and the judicious use of splinting to maintain correct joint position and function.

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