Children can have arthritis just like adults. Arthritis is caused by swelling and inflammation in the joints.
It causes pain, stiffness, loss of motion, and discomfort.
Juvenile arthritis is the terminology used to describe children’s arthritis. The most frequently occurring type that children get is juvenile idiopathic arthritis (idiopathic is defined as “from unknown causes”).
There are many other types of arthritis that can affect children.
How Is Juvenile Arthritis Treated?
Doctors who treat this type of arthritis will try to make sure your child can remain physically active.
They also try to make sure your child can stay involved in social activities and have an overall high quality of life. Doctors can prescribe treatments to maintain joint movement, reduce swelling, and relieve pain.
They also try to identify, prevent, and treat problems that result from arthritis.
Most children with arthritis need a combination of treatments – some treatments include prescription medications, and others do not.
Who Gets Juvenile Arthritis?
Juvenile arthritis affects children of all ethnic backgrounds and ages. Approximately 294,000 American children under the age of 18 have arthritis or another rheumatic ailment.
What is the Cause of Juvenile Arthritis?
Juvenile arthritis is typically due to an autoimmune disorder. In general, the immune system helps fight off harmful bacteria and viruses.
In an autoimmune disorder, the immune system fights off some of the body’s healthy cells and tissues. Scientists are unsure why this happens or what is the cause of the disorder.
Some believe it is a two-step process in children: something genetically inherited by the child makes the child more susceptible to getting arthritis, and something like a virus then triggers arthritis.
What Are the Symptoms and Signs of Juvenile Arthritis?
The most commonly occurring symptoms of juvenile arthritis are stiffness that doesn’t go away, pain, and joint swelling. It is worse after a nap or in the morning, and usually affects the feet, hands, and knees. Other signs include:
- Excessive clumsiness
- High fever and skin rash
- Limping in the morning due to stiffness
- Swelling in lymph nodes in the neck and other areas of the body
Most children who have arthritis have times when the symptoms get worse (flare up) and other times when they get better or go away (remission).
Juvenile arthritis may cause eye inflammation and growth problems. It also can cause joints and bones to grow unevenly.
How Do Doctors Find Out if Your Child Has Juvenile Arthritis?
There is no simple way for a doctor to tell if your child has juvenile arthritis.
Doctors usually suspect arthritis when a child has persistent joint swelling or pain, as well as unexplained skin rashes, a fever along with swollen lymph nodes, or inflammation in the body’s organs.
To be sure that it is juvenile arthritis, doctors depend on many things, which may include:
- Family history
- Lab tests
- Physical exam
How Can You Help Your Child Live Well With Juvenile Arthritis?
Juvenile arthritis can impact the whole family.
It can strain your child’s ability to take part in after-school and social activities, and it can make schoolwork more difficult.
Family members can help the child both physically and emotionally by doing the following:
- Consider joining a support group.
- Encourage exercise and physical therapy for your child.
- Get the best care possible.
- Learn as much as you can about your child’s disease and its treatment.
- Talk with your child.
- Treat your child as normally as possible.
- Work closely with your child’s school.
- Work with therapists or social workers.