In my blog I use the terms Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA) and Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) interchangeably when referring to my illness. I was diagnosed with JRA as a child, but now that I’m an adult I tend to use both terms to describe my condition.
JRA and RA are autoimmune diseases in which the body’s immune system mistakes certain tissues as foreign. So basically, my body works really hard to “kill” those tissues. In the process my joints become inflamed and destroyed, which results in swelling, pain, damage and potential fusion of the joint. These diseases are chronic, meaning that symptoms can be experienced for the rest of an individual’s lifetime. Due to the severe and destructive nature of these conditions, many persons have to take daily pain killers and strong medications (given via pill, injection or infusion) to try to manage disease activity. Each person’s experience with RA is unique and the medications that work for one person may not work for another. It’s all about trial and error here.
If you are curious to know what JRA feels like, you can read about it in this post: What does Rheumatoid Arthritis feel like?
It should be noted that JRA and RA differ from Osteoarthritis, which occurs due to age or injury of a joint. Rheumatoid Arthritis is not your grandmother’s arthritis and cannot be cured by taking a few pain killers.
- RA Guy provides a neat and informative 60-Second Guide to RA here.
- WebMD.com defines Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis:
“Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA), often referred to by doctors today as juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), is a type of arthritis that causes joint inflammation and stiffness for more than six weeks in a child aged 16 or younger. It affects approximately 50,000 children in the United States. Inflammation causes redness, swelling, warmth, and soreness in the joints…Any joint can be affected, and inflammation may limit the mobility of affected joints.
JRA is an autoimmune disorder, which means that the body mistakenly identifies some of its own cells and tissues as foreign. The immune system, which normally helps to fight off harmful, foreign substances such as bacteria or viruses, begins to attack healthy cells and tissues. The result is inflammation — marked by redness, heat, pain, and swelling.”
- Rheumatoid Arthritis affects adults and is defined by MayoClinic:
“Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that typically affects the small joints in your hands and feet. Unlike the wear-and-tear damage of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis affects the lining of your joints, causing a painful swelling that can eventually result in bone erosion and joint deformity.
An autoimmune disorder, rheumatoid arthritis occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks your own body’s tissues. In addition to causing joint problems, rheumatoid arthritis can also affect your whole body with fevers and fatigue.
Rheumatoid arthritis is much more common in women than in men and generally occurs between the ages of 40 and 60. Treatment focuses on controlling symptoms and preventing joint damage.”