Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA)

Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) refers to arthritis in childhood. It can affect children from the ages of six months to 16 years.

In JIA, the body’s immune system mistakes normal joints as foreign, and attacks the joints, causing them to become inflamed. There are different types of JIA.

Usually, a few joints are affected. For a few children, many joints can be affected. Joints are painful, swollen, and stiff.

Over time, the joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments may suffer permanent damage. Other organs can be affected too, such as skin and eyes.

What causes JIA?

The term ‘Idiopathic’ means that we don’t know what causes JIA.

Having a family history of JIA does appear to increase your risk, but JIA is not considered to be hereditary, and having two children in a family with JIA is rare.

What can I do to manage my child’s JIA?

Firstly, make sure you have an accurate diagnosis for your child. It is best to visit their general practitioner (doctor) first, to get appropriate tests and to come up with a treatment plan. If your doctor suspects your child has JIA, they will usually be referred to a rheumatologist (arthritis specialist) for treatment and advice.

The best approach to treatment is a team approach.

You and your child are the most important members of your healthcare team. Your team may also involve your doctor, specialists (such as rheumatologists and orthopaedic specialists), and allied health professionals (such as physiotherapists and occupational therapists), along with support from your friends and family and community organisations.

We provide a range of services that support you to manage your child’s JIA.

Arthritis Infoline

Our experienced health educators can give you advice, support and link you to resources in your area. To speak to one of our caring staff ring 1800 011 041 Monday - Friday (8:30am - 4pm).

Download the JIA (juvenile idiopathic arthritis) information sheets:

Online Community

Join our online community and connect with other parents and children with arthritis. Arthritis Queensland has a Facebook group specifically for parents and family of children living with arthritis where you can share your experiences.  

Action Plan for JIA

In 2013 , Arthritis Queensland developed the 2013 Action Plan for Queensland Children with Juvenile Arthritis. The project was supported by a grant from the St George foundation, a generous donation from the Arthritis Queensland Ipswich support group, and the contributions of those who participated in state-wide surveys and workshops.

The action plan takes a detailed and multidisciplinary approach, addressing treatment and access to health care, the need for more awareness, information, and support, the education needs of children with juvenile arthritis, and transitions into adult life.  Have a look at our  Action Plan for JIA, to see what Arthritis Queensland, the medical community and our partners are doing to improve the lives of children with JIA.

JIA Family Survey

Arthritis Queensland commissioned a survey of families of children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis, as part of the project. Read a report on the findings  here.

Contact our Partners - Zoe’s Angels   

Arthritis Queensland partners with Zoe’s Angels to ensure that Queenslanders living with Arthritis are supported at every stage of life. Zoe’s Angels is an independent charity which raises fund and arranges events to support the families of children with JIA.

The following services are funded and arranged by Zoe’s Angels.

  • Camp Courageous and Little Warriors Weekend

Each year Zoe's Angels hosts a camp in Queensland for children aged 10-17 living with arthritis. Zoe's Angels Camp Courageous provides the opportunity for kids with arthritis to go to camp in a safe and supportive environment. They will test their boundaries through a number of physical challenges, but also meet other children living with the arthritis and learn how to better manage their condition.

Zoe’s Angels also host a Little Warriors Weekend for younger children with JIA (infants to 9 years old) and their carers and siblings. This weekend break provides respite and a supporting network to families learning to live with the impact of JIA.

Other Resources and Support Services

There are also a variety of resources and support services from other organisations that may be of use:

Bones and Joints School is a virtual and interactive portal for children, parents, and teachers, with resources that were developed in conjunction with the Australian School Curriculum. The website has modules and activities about healthy eating, exercise growth, and healthy bone and joint management. The online school is an intiative of Arthritis and Osteoporosis WA and was funded by Telethon.

Livewire is an initiative of the Starlight Children's Foundation, and provide a safe and fun online community for young people aged 10 -21 years (and their siblings) who are affected by serious illnesses, chronic health conditions, or disabilities.