Typical symptoms of JIA include joint pain, swelling and stiffness that last for more than 6 continuous weeks. Stiffness is typically worse in the morning or after a nap. JIA tends to affect the knees, hands and feet, and may involve only a few joints or several joints at a time. The child may have difficulty walking, is reluctant to use a limb, or be struggling with fine motor skills. Chronic arthritis in a growing child can potentially lead to localized growth failure which can result in leg length discrepancy (and this could be permanent).
A small group of children with JIA (approximately 10%), have a systemic form of the disease that is characterised by fever and rash in addition to arthritis. The rash and fever may appear before the joint symptoms, but the arthritis may persist even after the fever and rash have disappeared. Some other symptoms in the systemic form of the disease may include liver, spleen or lymph nodes enlargement and inflammation of the membranes around the lungs (pleuritis) and the heart (pericarditis).
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