Medications for Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA)


As yet, there is no cure for JIA in children and teenagers. However, there are safe and effective medications to help control the disease. These medications can help:

  • decrease the inflammation
  • decrease pain and swelling
  • make it easier to stay active and exercise
  • prevent or lessen damage to the joints

In this section of the JIA resource centre, you will learn about the medications that may be prescribed for JIA.

A medication program will be designed by the doctor. The choice of medications to use is very specific to the child. It will take into account things like the type of JIA he has, how severe his JIA is, and other medical issues he may have.  

Things to remember about JIA medications

  • The medication needs to be taken regularly, the way the doctor prescribes it. This is the only way to be sure that the child will get the best results from it.
  • The medication dose prescribed is based on the child's weight and how severe his JIA is. He should always take his medication as prescribed. Do not change the dosage without talking to the doctor first. For some medications, such as corticosteroids, a child could become ill if the dose is changed without consulting the doctor.
  • Most JIA medications will need a prescription. However, some of them do not need a prescription. These are called over-the-counter medications.
  • Many children and teenagers with JIA need to take more than one medication together at the same time. This is called combination therapy. It often has the best chance of controlling the disease.
  • JIA medications need to be taken for a long time to be effective. JIA does not tend to "go away" in a few months. A child will probably need to take medications for many months or years.
  • All medications can cause side effects. You will learn about the most common side effects later in this section of the JIA resource centre. It is important to discuss the different side effects of the medications with the doctor. He or she can provide ways to deal with the side effects.
  • Make sure to tell the doctor about all treatments being taken for JIA or for any other problem. The doctor needs to know about all prescription and over-the-counter drugs. You also need to tell the doctor if other remedies are being taken, such as vitamins, minerals, supplements, or naturopathic or homeopathic therapies.
  • Make sure to inform the doctor about any other coexisting medical conditions, such as asthma.  

Different names for medicines

Did you know that there are often two different names for each medication? The generic name is the name of the active ingredient in the drug. The brand name is given to the drug by the company that produces it.

If two or more companies make the same drug, it may be available under different brand names or under the generic name. The active ingredient is the same for all versions of the drug. For example, ibuprofen is a generic name and Advil and Motrin are the brand names for ibuprofen​.