A recent study was conducted by Belgian researchers to determine the relationship between juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) and craniofacial alterations. Their findings were published in the September, 2007 issue of the Journal of Rheumatology.
They based their study on 100 patients with various subtypes of JIA. This included 12 with systemic arthritis, 25 with polyarthritis, 39 with oligoarthritis, 22 with enthesitis-related arthritis and 2 with psoriatic arthritis.
They found that 55 of the patients had at least one sign of TMJ, the most common being restricted mouth opening. 46 of the patients had radiographic exams and of those, 78% showed damage to the mandibular condyle which is the rounded articular area of the TMJ joint.
They determined that damage to the TMJ condyle occurs very frequently in patients with JIA regardless of the subtype of the disease. In fact, they stated that the damage could begin early in the disease even prior to any clinical symptoms.
However, there are steps that can be taken to improve the outcome for this damage. A study performed by the University of Milan looked at the results of various treatment options for children with JIA and TMJ damage. They found that nearly all of the 72 patients showed satisfactory long term results, reduction in pain, increased function and good facial profile through the use of orthopedic therapy. They also indicated that the use of surgery should only be considered in severe cases.