Hugh Duckworth MD
Hugh Duckworth MD

Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) in 1984 from University of Tennessee School of Medicine

Oct 7, 2018 2 min read

JRA Symptoms: What are Early Signs and Symptoms?

Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, like adult RA, shared symptoms with many different types of arthritis. However, patients with JRA usually share some common side effects.


What to look for

It can take years for many kids to receive a proper JRA diagnosis. If you notice your child has any of the common arthritis symptoms, you should speak with their doctor or pediatrician immediately.

Common JRA symptoms include:

  • High fevers
  • Loss of appetite
  • Joint swelling
  • Anemia
  • Rashes

If your child is experiencing stiff joints in the morning, especially in their hands and knees, you should speak with a medical professional as soon as possible.

What to expect from JRA symptoms

Joint problems

Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis typically affects hands and feet, and may also lead to morning stiffness, where a child’s joints are uncomfortably stiff for about 45 minutes after waking up.

If you believe your child may be developing JRA, you may notice them limp or have trouble moving around in the morning. You may also notice swelling in one knee, although rheumatoid arthritis usually develops in both knee joints at the same time.

Systemic JRA

Joint pain may not be the only problem for patients with JRA. Many children experience rashes and fevers, usually occurring at the same time. This is called systemic JRA. Over time, this condition can cause nodes to appear around joints, and even near the child’s neck.

Inflammation in the eyes

Some children will start experiencing eye problems if they have or are developing JRA. Continual eye pain and vision problems usually don’t occur immediately, but may happen over time.

Stunted growth

In early years, many children with JRA experience slower-than-normal growth, with some joints developing faster than others. This leads to legs and arms of different lengths, and may even affect a child’s overall height. In most cases, children diagnosed with JRA at a young age grow at a slower rate than others.

JRA may develop in any, or all, of the above methods. In some rare cases, patients will have joint problems throughout their body, and experience organ damage due to high inflammation.

Remissions and Flare-Ups

Many children experience symptoms for months or even years, and then go through remission, side effects may disappear completely, only to return months later.

In between these periods, symptoms will occasionally get much worse for a short period of time — this is called a flare-up. Many children experience a few flare-ups throughout remission while others will go months, or even years, without side effects.

With any type of rheumatoid arthritis, each case is different. Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is no exception. Thankfully, there are ways to improve these symptoms and fight against JRA. Proper diet and low-impact exercise are great ways to control inflammation, and doctors can prescribe some helpful medications that will fight against dangerous side effects.

If you or your child are experiencing symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis, please see a doctor immediately.