Medications for juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA)

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Find out what arthritis medications can do, what the doctor needs to consider before prescribing medication, how the dose is determined and why it is important to take arthritis medication regularly and as prescribed.

Key points

  • JIA medications can help decrease inflammation, pain and swelling; make it easier to stay active; prevent or lessen damage to the joints.
  • Do not change the dosage of medication without talking to the doctor first.

There is no known cure for JIA. However, there are safe and effective medications to help control the disease. In this section of the JIA resource centre, you will learn about the medications that may be prescribed for JIA.

JIA 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.

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 they have, how severe their JIA is, and other medical issues they may have.

For more information regarding teens and JIA, please visit our teen JIA learning hub:

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 your child will get the best results from it.
  • The medication dose prescribed is based on your child's weight and how severe the JIA is. Always give your child medication as prescribed. Do not change the dosage without talking to their doctor first. For some medications, such as corticosteroids, your child could become ill if you change the dose on your own.
  • Most JIA medications will need a prescription from the doctor. However, some of them do not need a prescription. These are called over-the-counter medications.
  • Many young people with JIA need to take more than one medication at the same time. This is called combination therapy. This is used to better control JIA when one medication is not enough to do the job.
  • JIA medications need to be taken for a long time to be effective. JIA doesn’t “go away” in a few months. Your 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. It is important to discuss the different side effects of the medications with your child's doctor. They can provide you with some ways to deal with the side effects.
  • Make sure to tell your child's doctor about all treatments that they are receiving for JIA, or for any other problem. The doctor needs to know about any prescription and over-the-counter drugs your child is taking. You also need to tell the doctor if your child is taking other remedies, such as vitamins, minerals, supplements, or naturopathic or homeopathic therapies.
  • Make sure to tell your child's doctor about any other medical conditions your child might have, such as asthma.

Different names for your medicines

Did you know that there are often two different names for each of your child's medications? 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.

Last updated: January 31st 2017