Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis and Celiac

There are several different types of juvenile arthritis. The most common form is juvenile idiopathic arthritis, also known as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. This chronic inflammatory disease describes a clinically different group of arthritis (joint inflammation), which begins before the age of 16 and lasts for at least six weeks. The cause of disease is still poorly understood but it seems to be related to both genetic and environmental factors.

Symptoms and Signs 
 Children with JIA vary in the degree to which they are affected by particular symptoms. Arthritis is best described by four major changes in the joints that may develop. The most common features of JIA are: joint inflammation, joint contracture (stiff, bent joint), joint damage and/or alteration or change in growth. Other symptoms include joint stiffness following rest or decreased activity level, and weakness in muscles and other soft tissues around involved joints. However, because JIA affects each child differently, your child may not experience all of these changes. Children also vary in the degree to which they are affected by any particular symptom.

Main Types of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis

  • Pauciarticular is defined as arthritis of fewer than 5 joints. This type often includes inflammation in the eyes.
  • Polyarthritis includes arthritis in 5 or more joints.
  • Systemic arthritis is characterized by high fevers, rash, and inflammation of other organs, in addition to arthritis.

There is not one single test to diagnose this condition. However, doctors diagnose JIA by carefully examining the patient and considering the patient’s medical history, the results of laboratory tests, and X rays that help rule out other conditions.

 The overall goal of JIA treatment is to control symptoms, prevent joint damage and maintain function. Some of recommend treatments include medication, exercise, physical therapy, eye and dental care, and diet.

Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis and Celiac Disease

  • Several studies have suggested that JIA is associated with celiac disease in a frequency between 1.5% – 6.6%
  • Lepore et al concluded that the prevalence of celiac disease is increased in patients with JIA.
  • In most cases of associated celiac disease and other autoimmune diseases, the onset of JIA occurs before celiac disease has been detected and treated. Therefore it seems reasonable to suggest that untreated celiac disease predisposes patients to other autoimmune diseases.



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