Systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis is a type of juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). JIA is a group of disorders that causes arthritis (stiff, swollen, painful joints) in children.
Children with systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis (systemic JIA) have periods of arthritis along with a fever and rash. They also may have swollen glands and problems with the heart, lungs, and blood.
Treatments can help with symptoms, so children can live a full and active life. The symptoms can go away for a time (called remission). In some kids, the condition goes away permanently.
What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Systemic Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis?
Children with systemic JIA have:
arthritis in one or more joints (usually the wrists, knees, and ankles) for more than 6 weeks
high fevers that usually come and go for more than 2 weeks
Treatment goals are to ease pain and inflammation, improve strength and flexibility, and prevent joint damage. Treatment usually includes medicines to ease inflammation and physical therapy.
Sometimes surgery is needed for damaged joints.
What Other Problems Can Happen?
Rarely, kids with JIA can get a life-threatening problem called macrophage activation syndrome. It happens when the immune system becomes too active and damages some of the body’s organs. It can lead to severe diarrhea, bleeding, hearing loss, confusion, and seizures.
Macrophage activation syndrome needs treatment right away:
Go to the emergency room if your child has severe diarrhea, bleeding, confusion, or seizures, or seems very sleepy.
How Can Parents Help?
Systemic JIA usually is a lifelong disease, but treatments can help ease pain, keep kids active, and prevent long-term joint damage. To help your child:
Be sure your child takes all medicines exactly as directed.
Work with the physical therapist to develop a regular exercise program. This will help keep your child’s muscles strong and flexible.
Learn all you can about systemic JIA with your child. Your care team is a great resource. You also can find information and support online at: