July is National Juvenile Arthritis Month
Juvenile Arthritis (JA) is not a disease itself. While it is usually known as Pediatric Rheumatic Disease, JA is a broad term that describes many autoimmune and inflammatory conditions that develop in kids aged 16 and younger. Juvenile arthritis affects approximately 300,000 kids that live in the U.S, with a higher prevalence of cases occurring in girls.
There are common signs and symptoms that a child affected by childhood arthritis may have. Some symptoms come and go overtime. At times, symptoms get worse, which are known as flares. When symptoms get better they are known as remission. These symptoms and signs include:
- Joint pain
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty with daily living activities such as walking, dressing,
There are numerous conditions in the group of Pediatric Rheumatic disease. Some of these include:
- Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA)
- Juvenile Lupus
- Juvenile Onset Scleroderma
- Juvenile Myositis
There is no known cause for most of juvenile arthritis. As with most autoimmune conditions, it may be due to a combination of genetic factors, environmental and the child’s own immune system.
Diagnosing this condition takes time. Since there is no single blood test that confirms JA, a careful physical exam and a thorough medical history are needed.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for JA, but with early diagnosis and treatment, remission can happen. The goal is to control pain, relieve inflammation, and improve the child’s quality of life.
Higher rates of depression have been found in children with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis than their peers who do not have it. So checking up on a child’s emotional and social state is crucial. We want them to stay happy and healthy as long as possible. In order for this to be possible, an important part of treatment is having children know how imperative it is to follow the treatment plan their doctors prescribe for them. Arthritis in children is treatable. In spite of their diagnosis, most children can expect to live a normal lifestyle.
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