A number of conditions can cause painful, stiff joints in children. Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) is a relatively uncommon cause of these symptoms. Most often, joint pain can be linked to an injury.
Other conditions that may be confused with JIA include:
- Growing pains.
- Injury or overuse (knee pain, bursitis, tendinitis).
- Other inflammatory diseases, including lupus, rheumatic fever, or other types of arthritis.
- Hypermobility syndrome ("double-jointed"), which can cause joint pain at night and after heavy or unusual activity. The child may show unusual ability to overextend or overstraighten the knees, fingers, hands, or elbows.
- Lyme disease.
- Inflammation in a joint caused by a foreign body, such as a splinter in the joint.
- A condition in which the upper end of the thighbone slips off the rest of the bone (slipped capital femoral epiphysis).
- A tumor.
- Infection of a joint (bacterial or septic arthritis).
- Infection of a bone (osteomyelitis).
- Arthritis associated with inflammatory bowel disease.
- Other diseases that affect cell growth, such as leukemia.
By Healthwise Staff Primary Medical Reviewer Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics Specialist Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD - Pediatrics Last Revised June 5, 2012