Jennifer Freeman, MD
Jennifer Freeman, MD

Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) in 2008 from UT Health San Antonio, Surgeon at TRACC Dallas

Oct 7, 2018 2 min read

JRA Complications: What are the Complications of JRA?

While the underlying causes behind juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) are largely unknown, this condition can be life-altering. Proper diagnosis and treatment, especially early on, can drastically improve the quality of life for patients with JRA.

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Common Symptoms

Common symptoms for JRA include (but are not limited to):

  • Frequent high fevers that occur suddenly
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Swollen joints – especially the knees
  • Rashes on the chest or abdomen which are worse in the evening
  • Stiff joints – especially in the morning or after naps
  • Painful joints – especially in the morning or after naps

While there are dozens of symptoms for JRA, and many types of arthritis have overlapping side effects, contact your doctor immediately if you or your child are developing joints problems. If JRA is caught early on, you’ll have a much higher chance of curing side effects completely and slowing the progression of the disease.

Long-term Complications

Over time, JRA can cause serious complications. These include:

  • Anemia
  • Permanent joint damage
  • Decreased growth
  • Disproportionate limbs

Common Complications

Like many types of arthritis, each patient responds to (and manifests) JRA differently. However, there are some common complications that many individuals with this disease experience, including:

Eye inflammation — JRA often causes eye problems, such as irritation, blurred vision, increased sensitivity to light, and constant pain. Over time, the inflammation that causes these problems can lead to more serious problems, including blindness.

Slower-than-normal growth — JRA, and medications used to treat this dangerous disease, can stunt growth for developing children. Young children can experience a dramatic reduction in bone growth if they have JRA.

If you believe your child may be developing JRA, contact their doctor or pediatrician immediately. Proper diagnosis, especially for children just developing JRA, will help your child in fighting this dangerous condition.

Diagnosis

If you suspect that your child has JRA, your doctor should administer a physical exam — this will result in a close look at all joints, especially the knees. The medical staff will determine if your child has inflammation around their joints.

After a physical, your doctor will most likely do a blood test, which checks the proteins and overall condition of your child’s bloodstream. Common initial tests are for rheumatoid factor and inflammation levels throughout the body.

Doctors may also order an imaging test, like an X-ray. This helps medical staff build a stronger picture of damaged joints throughout the body.

In some cases, doctors will insert a needle into a swollen joint, which removes fluid. They will analyze this fluid to see what’s causing the inflammation. These procedures are very safe, and the needle only causes temporary pain.

Treatment

Most treatments for JRA focus on anti-inflammatory drugs, like ibuprofen. These can help control symptoms when the arthritis is still in early stages. As JRA progresses, patients may require stronger medications, additional forms of therapy, and a more aggressive treatment regimen.