Arthritis is not just a disease that affects the elderly – in fact, juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) is one of the most commonly diagnosed childhood diseases nationwide. Common symptoms include:
Joint tenderness & Stiffness
Joint tenderness can be reduced with regular stretching, exercise, and splinting. Splints are braces that help joints (like knees or wrists) stay in place.
Inflammation & Swelling
Inflammation may cause pressure and pain in and around a child’s joint. Sometimes, children and teens with JIA may keep the inflamed joint in a bent position, which is usually more comfortable for them. The problem is, if the joint stays bent for too long, the muscles and tendons that attach to the bone will shorten and not grow properly. As a result, inflamed joints may become stuck in a bent position.
JIA is arthritis that affects one or more joints in a child aged 16 or younger for at least six weeks. Commonly affected joints include:
Some forms of JIA are more common in young girls. No one knows the exact cause of juvenile arthritis, but scientists do know it is an autoimmune disorder affecting the immune system, which normally helps the body fight infection. Instead of working to help the body fight infection, a person with JIA’s immune system attacks the body’s own tissue.
In the past, standard treatments for children with JIA have included:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or aspirin, and
- Corticosteroids like prednisone.
Still, over the last two decades, treatments for JIA have been revolutionized due to new medications and improved reproducibility in clinical trials. JIA is now treated with newer medicines called biologics. These medicines are called biologics because they are extracted from biological sources. Biologics are usually injected, and they are used to target the body’s overactive immune system by suppressing the proteins that trigger inflammation and swelling. Common biologic medications include:
Enbrel is used to reduce the signs of moderately to severely active juvenile idiopathic arthritis in children ages 2 years and older.
During a 32-week period of a clinical study in patients 4-17 years of age, fewer children treated with Humira experienced