By Carolyn George, MD


I remember as a child looking at my grandmother’s knotted fingers which caused her considerable pain. It’s true that when we think of arthritis – an image of a senior often comes to mind.

However, juvenile arthritis is prevalent in the USA and affects nearly 300,000 youths. Additionally, JIA often goes undiagnosed as the symptoms may not be visible, and the child may not complain.

A diagnosis of juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) means the symptoms presented before the age of 16. The term idiopathic means “the specific cause of the disorder is unknown.” However, research indicates that a combination of genetic and environmental factors is often attributed to the diagnosis.

Symptoms may include:

  • Pain and swelling in the joints
  • Morning soreness
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Limping
  • Persistent fever
  • Blurry vision
  • Loss of appetite

How is JIA diagnosed?

Often the approach of eliminating other conditions such as bone breaks, lupus, or Lyme disease precedes a JIA diagnosis. Individuals with this condition will also show a positive blood test for proteins called rheumatoid factors. (1)

There are five types of JIA

  • Systemic
  • Oligoarthritis
  • Polyarthritis
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Enthesitis-related arthritis

For details of the characteristics of each type, click here (2)

A functional medicine approach to tackling JIA would start with nutrition. A variety of foods may aid in reducing inflammation and promoting healthy growth. (3)

  • Omega 3-rich foods such as salmon or plant-based choices like walnuts, chia, and hemp.
  • Eat the rainbow – choose colorful fruits and vegetables such as cherries, broccoli, and tomatoes.
  • Calcium and D-rich foods and supplements.
  • Herbal supplements or herbs that reduce inflammation are turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon.

And a reminder as always:

  • Avoid sugar.
  • Avoid trans fats and saturated fats in moderation (for example, coconut oil and ghee)

Exercise is critical

It is essential to keep the child who has JIA moving. Encourage them to stretch each morning. Additionally, strengthening exercises can help the child to control pain and stiffness and maintain mobility. A physical therapist can help figure out how much training is appropriate for each child. (4)

Often recommended is an isometric exercise for strengthening and aerobic conditioning through swimming, bicycling, or walking.

Why infusion therapy is beneficial:

Suppose a child has not had good results from oral medications or has difficulty administering, such as difficulty swallowing. In that case, infusion therapy could be a viable option to provide the vitamins and minerals to reduce inflammation.

To learn more about infusion therapy – click here.

If you are curious about Prescription Medications prescribed for this illness learn more here. 

If you suspect your child may have JIA, talk to your family doctor, and ask for a recommendation for a rheumatologist.