Posts Tagged ‘kids arthritis’

Did you know that July is Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month?

We are all painfully aware that arthritis affects many older adults, but did you know that kids can develop juvenile arthritis?

Approximately 294,000 children age 16 or younger are affected by pediatric arthritis and rheumatologic conditions.
In adults, arthritis typically affects the joints. While juvenile arthritis can cause bone and joint growth problems, it also can affect the eyes, skin, and gastrointestinal tract.

The most common symptoms of juvenile arthritis are joint swelling, pain, and stiffness that won’t go away, particularly in the knees, hands, and feet. Symptoms are generally worse in the morning and after naps. Other signs of juvenile arthritis include:

•    Limping due to a stiff knee

•    Excessive clumsiness

•    High fever and skin rash

•    Swelling in the lymph nodes

The most common type of juvenile arthritis is juvenile idiopathic arthritis. (Idiopathic means “from unknown causes.”) You may have heard this referred to as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. This type of arthritis is diagnosed when a child has swelling in one or more joints for at least six weeks.

There are several different types of juvenile idiopathic arthritis. The type is usually determined by the number of joints affected as well as by the results of a rheumatoid factor blood test. While children may have a genetic predisposition that makes them more likely to develop the disease, at this point, researchers have not determined a direct cause, and there’s no evidence that toxins, foods, or allergies can cause it. Most children with juvenile arthritis experience remission, when the symptoms get better or go away, and times when symptoms flare, or get worse.

If your child has juvenile arthritis symptoms, the first thing to do is get an accurate diagnosis. Your child’s pediatrician can run tests that will rule out other potential causes, but if the signs point to juvenile arthritis, he or she may suggest you make an appointment with a pediatric rheumatologist.

There is no cure for juvenile arthritis; however, a number of treatments can improve your child’s quality of life, including:

•    Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, and analgesics to help relieve inflammation and control pain

•    Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and a biologic response modifiers (biologics), which can alter the course of the disease, put it into remission, and prevent joint damage

•    Splints to help keep joints in the correct position and to relieve pain and orthopedics or shoe inserts to compensate for any difference in leg length or to improve balance

•    Physical therapy to help restore motion and flexibility in joints that have become stiff and occupational therapy to help children learn how to do basic activities without aggravating their arthritis

And, of course, it’s super important for kids with juvenile arthritis to eat healthy foods and get regular moderate exercise, to keep joints strong and flexible.

Does your child have juvenile arthritis? How does your family cope? We welcome your questions and feedback in the comments section below.