In Australia, at least 5,000 children are affected by Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis JIA at any one time. The prevalence is between one and four cases per 1000 children. It is a chronic, autoimmune, inflammatory joint disease and the most common rheumatic disease in children and adolescents. JIA carries the potential for longer term inflammatory activity and complications, leaving a lasting impact on the child's function, growth and quality of life.
Accurate and early diagnosis along with appropriate management and referral are essential for maximising patient outcomes and quality of life. With good treatment, most patients with JIA are able to lead an active life. Deaths due to JIA are rare, but the condition may have considerable effects on quality of life because of the psychological impact of long-term illness, the effects it imposes on family life and the side effects of medications used to treat it. It is important that children presenting with JIA are diagnosed early and GPs commence initial management and refer promptly to a paediatric rheumatologist. Because of the relatively low prevalence of JIA in the general population, GPs often have little experience with its diagnosis or management. Guidelines have been developed to fill that gap and reflect the current evidence based approach to managing children with JIA.
This program covers the recommendations for the early diagnosis and multidisciplinary management of JIA in the primary care setting. It examines the practice points related to early identification, referral, prevention of complications, minimisation of pain and joint damage and improved quality of life.
This program is one of four in the Musculoskeletal Guideline Series. The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has developed national musculoskeletal clinical guidelines for general practitioners and other primary care health professionals for osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis and osteoporosis. The guidelines are approved by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).
Produced by the Rural Health Education Foundation