Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) is a term used to describe a common type of arthritis in children. It is a long-term (chronic) disease resulting in joint pain and swelling.


Symptoms of JRA may begin with a swollen joint, limping, a spiking fever, or a new rash.

Symptoms can include:

  • Joint stiffness and pain
  • Limited range of motion
  • Warm, swollen, or red joints 
  • A child may stop using an affected limb or may limp 

Body-wide JRA symptoms:

  • Fever, usually high fevers every day
  • Rash (trunk and extremities) that comes and goes with the fever
  • Pale skin
  • Looks sick
  • Swollen lymph nodes (glands)

JRA can also cause eye problems called uveitis, iridocyclitis, or iritis. There may be no symptoms, or the person may have: 

  • Red eyes
  • Eye pain, which may get worse when looking at light (photophobia)
  • Vision changes

What you can expect from therapy

When only a small number of joints are involved, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen may be enough to control symptoms. Corticosteroids may be used for more severe flare-ups to help control symptoms.

Children who have arthritis in many joints, or who have fever, rash, and swollen glands may need other medicines. Those medicines are called disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). They can decrease or prevent swelling in the joints or body.

DMARDs include:

  • Methotrexate
  • Biologic drugs, such as such as etanercept, infliximab, and related drugs

It is important for children with JRA to stay active and keep their muscles strong. Exercise will help keep their muscles and joints strong and mobile. Walking, bicycling, and swimming may be good activities. Children should learn to warm up before exercising.

Talk to the doctor or physical therapist about exercises to do when your child is having pain. Support and help for children who have sadness or anger about their arthritis is also very important.

Some children with JRA may need surgery, including joint replacement.

Learn more about how HealthReach therapists can help

Schedule your initial consultation today by calling us at 1-262-780-0707.

Click here to see our locations and to find a therapist near you.


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KidReach pediatric therapy specialists, Milwaukee, Brookfield, Hales Corners, Wisconsin