Coping with juvenile arthritis (JA) is difficult while growing up. However, the disease itself is not life-threatening, and with proper treatment and care most children are able to have a full and active childhood.

On the whole, with advances in medication, the long-term prognosis for most patients with JA is positive. For many patients, symptoms do not carry on into adulthood, so they can live an independent life. Others may experience long periods of remission (when no symptoms are present) with occasional flare-ups when symptoms return. However, some patients may continue to experience symptoms and could require continual treatment to manage them.

The prognosis of the disease depends on the severity and type of JA, how soon it was diagnosed, and when treatment began. For example, about 30 to 40 percent of patients diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis continue to experience symptoms in adulthood. Late diagnosis or certain complications can lead to long-lasting consequences that can be carried into adulthood.

Complications due to JA

JA may cause permanent joint damage even after other symptoms are no longer present if the disease was severe enough or if treatment was started late. This can limit a person’s range of movements and can negatively affect their daily life. In some cases, patients may need joint replacements.

Some medications also can cause complications in later life. For example, sometimes long-term steroid treatment can stunt development (resulting in the patient being physically smaller on average) or can cause the weakening and thinning of bones (osteoporosis). Osteoporosis can lead to bones being brittle and easier to break, even as a consequence of a minor fall.

An eye inflammation (uveitis) left untreated for a long time may result in permanent vision damage or even blindness in severe cases.

Patients with systemic JA may experience the consequences of poor nutrition while growing up if the symptoms of weight loss and poor appetite are not addressed fully during development.

If left untreated, JA can affect the growth of bones at affected joints causing them to grow slower or faster. This can result in asymmetrical limb development, and if this occurs in the legs, can cause walking problems.

Note: Juvenile Arthritis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.