July is Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month
Nearly 300,000 children have been diagnosed with juvenile arthritis. Arthritis is swelling or tenderness in one or more of the joints. A joint is where the ends of bones meet, such as the knee joint, shoulder joint, or small joints in the fingers and toes. The most prevalent is juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), affecting more than 50,000 children in the United States alone.
Juvenile arthritis is an autoimmune disease. This means that the body attacks its own healthy cells and tissues.
When juvenile arthritis first shows its symptoms in a child’s body, many parents write off swollen joints and fever as a flu bug, or think that a sudden rash might have occurred from an allergic reaction. The symptoms might even recede slightly before showing up again,
sometimes delaying a diagnosis for quite some time. Joint pain in children can be caused by a variety of things, but if a child’s joints are swollen for 6 weeks or longer, it may be arthritis.
Some signs and symptoms include:
Joint pain (joints become inflamed, stiffens, the joint suffers damage, the joints growth is changed)
Muscles and other soft tissue around the joint may weaken
Loss of appetite
Inflammation of the eye
Difficulty with daily living activities such as walking, dressing, and playing
Awareness is key in detecting juvenile arthritis. There is no cure, but with early diagnosis and aggressive treatment, remission is possible. The goal of treatment is to slow down or stop inflammation and prevent disease progression. With detection, we can help relieve symptoms, control pain and improve quality of life.
Treatment of juvenile arthritis is designed to reduce swelling, maintain full movement of affected joints, and relieve pain. There are many treatment options, but the primary goal of it all is to induce remission of the arthritis. Treatment also focuses on preserving the child’s quality of life making it possible for them to still be active and participate in play, sports, school, and social activities.
References: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/juvenile-arthritis