Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis Diagnosis


An early diagnosis and aggressive treatment are key to preventing or slowing joint damage and preserving joint function and mobility.

Here are some of the steps a pediatrician will perform when JIA is suspected.

  • Medical history. The doctor will ask questions about the child’s health history to help determine the length of time and type of symptoms that have been present. This helps to rule out other possible causes like trauma or infections. The doctor will also ask about the family's medical history.
  • Physical examination. The doctor will check the joints for swelling and redness. The child's range of motion will be test.
  • Laboratory tests. The doctor may order blood tests that measure levels of certain proteins and other chemicals that are found in children with JIA. Tests may include erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR or sed rate), antinuclear antibody (ANA) test, anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP), rheumatoid factor (RF) test, HLA-B27 typing (a genetic marker), complete blood count (CBC) and urinalysis, among others.
  • Imaging. The doctor may order imaging tests, such as X-rays, ultrasound and MRI or CT scans, to identify joint damage.

The diagnosis of JIA is made by the presence of active arthritis in one or more joints for at least six weeks, after other conditions have been ruled out. The pediatrician and a pediatric rheumatologist may be involved in making the final diagnosis.

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