Childhood arthritis is the number one cause of acquired disability in children, and the sixth most common childhood disease following asthma, congenital heart disease, cerebral palsy, diabetes, and epilepsy. It is estimated that 300,000 children in the U.S. suffer from some form of arthritis or rheumatic disease.
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) is also called juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) and juvenile chronic arthritis (JCA). JRA is a form of arthritis that affects children 16 years old or younger and is the most prevalent type of arthritis affecting children today. The most common features of JRA 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, which is also referred to as morning stiffness or gelling, and weakness in muscles and other soft tissues around the involved joints. JRA can affect internal organs as well.