Shoulders and elbows: The shoulders and elbows are among the joints most commonly affected by oligoarticular JIA. Controlling the disease with medications can minimize damage to these joints. If involvement of these joints interferes with daily activity, ask for a referral to a physical or occupational therapist.

Back/spine: Back pain could be a symptom of enthesis-related arthritis, including juvenile ankylosing spondylitis, which may result in erosion of the sacroiliac joint (where the spine joins the hip bone) and overgrowth of bone in the spine that leads to fusing and stiffening. Proper medical treatment, as well as exercise, is important to help keep the spine mobile.

Major Organs Affected by JA

Skin: Many forms of juvenile arthritis can have skin effects, ranging from the faint salmon-colored skin rash characteristic of systemic JIA to the scaly rash of psoriatic arthritis. Letting your child’s doctor know about any skin symptoms can be helpful for both diagnosis and treatment.

Lungs: Systemic JIA can affect the lungs and other internal organs. Carefully following your child’s treatment plan will minimize the risk of any long-term damage to the lungs or other organs. 

Heart: The heart, like the lungs, can be affected in systemic JIA. Your child’s doctor will tell you if an echocardiogram is needed. If the disease is well treated it should not cause any lasting damage to the heart.

Stomach: The medications your child takes for JIA may cause nausea and other stomach problems. Ask her doctor about ways to minimize stomach upset, such as taking with food or at a certain time of day.

Liver: One of the most commonly used drugs for JIA, methotrexate has the potential to cause liver damage. Careful monitoring is important to catch problems early so the dosage can be adjusted if necessary.

Intestines: Children with arthritis of the spine may also develop inflammation of the small intestine or colon. If your child has spinal involvement (spondyloarthropathy), let your doctor know if he experiences symptoms such as abdominal pain and diarrhea. Prompt treatment can minimize the risk to the intestines.

Reproductive organs:  Juvenile arthritis can affect sexual development so that your child may go through puberty later than his peers. Immunosuppressive medications, such as cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan), which may be used in the treatment of lupus and other autoimmune diseases, can lead to problems with fertility later.