Diagnosing JIA

Several exams and tests are done in order to diagnose arthritis. A complete medical history, physical exam, blood tests, and imaging studies such as MRI and X-rays are needed.


There is no single test to diagnose JIA in young people. Since arthritis may be a part of many different illnesses, it is important to exclude those other conditions. Your doctor will do a complete evaluation to make sure your joint pain and swelling are not due to some other cause. It may take some time for your doctor to make sure that you have JIA. Your doctor will also need to determine what type of JIA you have.


Your doctor will ask you many questions about what has been going on with you. This is to obtain a complete history about your health and symptoms. The doctor will ask about your past health, tests that have been done, medications or treatments that you have used, and how well these treatments worked for you. This health history helps determine how long your symptoms have been present. It can also help rule out other possible causes of joint pain and swelling.

Your doctor will want to know if your parents or other family members have JIA. Some forms of JIA can be inherited, meaning that they can be passed down from generation to generation.

Physical exam

Your doctor will do a complete physical examination, which is an examination of your entire body. During the exam, they will check to see if your joints are inflamed. Symptoms of joint inflammation may include joint swelling, limited movement, or pain on movement.

Certain types of JIA are associated with rash, eye problems, or inflammation of the internal organs. Your doctor will check for these during your physical exam. You may also need to see an eye doctor for a more specialised eye exam.

Blood tests

Your doctor will probably order lab tests. These may include:

• Complete blood count (CBC)

• Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR)

• C-reactive protein (CRP)

• Antinuclear antibody (ANA)

• Rheumatoid factor (RF)

• Human leukocyte antigen B27 (HLAB27)

• Urinalysis

• Other tests if needed (e.g., lyme test).

These blood tests are explained in detail in the article “Blood tests and JIA.”

Imaging studies

Your doctor may order imaging studies to help make the diagnosis. Imaging studies provide pictures of your bones, joints, and organs. They can help check for other possible causes of joint pain and swelling. Examples include:

• X-rays
• Ultrasound
• Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
• Bone scan and bone density test.


Welcome to the Taking Charge: Managing JIA Online Program! In this section you will learn what to expect in the program, how to get started and how to set goals to better manage JIA.

JIA stands for juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Find out what causes JIA, the different types of JIA and how it will affect you now and in the future.

Diagnosing JIA may be difficult as joint pain and swelling may be a part of many different illnesses. Diagnosis of JIA typically includes a physical exam, blood tests and imaging studies.

Pain, stiffness, and tiredness or fatigue, are common symptoms of JIA. These symptoms can lead to difficulties with participating in school and sports activities, and enjoying time with your friends. Learn about pain, fatigue, and stiffness, how to manage symptoms and how these symptoms can cause stress.

There are several strategies you can use to help you cope with pain, stress, and sleep problems. These include relaxation, distraction, and managing your thoughts. In this section, learn more about how each of these strategies work.

When you know about your medications, you can talk to your doctor about them and make good choices for yourself. Find out about the different types of JIA medications, how they work, common side effects, and the importance of talking to your doctor about your medication plan.

Did you know that there are many other therapies that you can use to manage JIA symptoms? They can help to prevent complications so that you can do all the things you want to do. In this section, learn more about physical, occupational, and psychological therapies; maintaining healthy nutrition; surgical options for JIA, and more.

Your role in making decisions about your treatment plan is very important. Your health-care team and other members of your support system are available to help you make these decisions. In turn, they can help you to manage your JIA.

Whether you have JIA or not, you need to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Find out how to stay healthy and active, learn about puberty and relationships, healthy body image, and making healthy lifestyle choices.

Sometime between the ages of 18 to 22, you most likely will transition from your pediatric rheumatologist to the adult health care setting. At that time, there are a number of things you, your family, and your health-care team can do to help make this change go smoothly.