Where Does It Hurt?
Having JA is like having your own army turn against you! Instead of fighting off the bad guys (like the flu or germs trying to get in when you scrape your knee), your white blood cells start attacking your body’s own healthy cells thinking that they’re the enemy. That causes symptoms, which is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. Symptoms are how a doctor can tell if you have JA. Here are some of the symptoms of the different types of JA.
- Joint swelling (also called inflammation)
- Joint stiffness
- Joint tenderness
- Joint redness and warmth
- Limited movement in joints
- Fever that won’t go away or that keeps coming back
- Feeling really tired (also called fatigue)
- Vision problems, like red or sore eyes
- Slow growth
- Swollen lymph nodes
Sometimes JA symptoms seem like they could be something else. Maybe you’re tired because you stayed up too late on a holiday or you’re stiff after playing outside. It can take a while before your doctor figures out you have JA.
Arianna N. had that experience. “I started to have trouble with my right wrist, lots of pain and swelling, and, at first, we thought I was sleeping on it funny because it was stiff in the mornings. Then a couple of months later it started in the left wrist. Not long after that it was in my ankle.” It took a year before Arianna was diagnosed with JA by a pediatric rheumatologist (a joint doctor who works with children).
Once doctors know what your symptoms are saying, they can help you get the treatment that will help you feel better.