Doctors estimate that over 300,000 children under the age of 16 have been diagnosed with juvenile arthritis (JA). JA isn’t just adult arthritis in children. The causes, symptoms, and treatments are specific to this disease. July is Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month, and we’re giving you 10 fast facts about the illness.
- Juvenile Arthritis is actually a group of diseases that includes the most common version, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, plus other pediatric rheumatic diseases.
- Your child’s diagnosis may start with your pediatrician or primary care provider, but you’ll be referred to a rheumatologist who specializes in arthritis in children.
- Symptoms of juvenile arthritis aren’t limited to the joints. Your child may complain of joint pain, swelling, fever, stiffness, and fatigue. You may also notice a rash, loss of appetite, inflammation of the eye, and difficulty with everyday activities like walking, dressing, and playing.
- Left untreated, children with JA may have permanent joint damage.
- Juvenile Arthritis is considered an auto-immune disorder. That means the immune system in children with JA over-reacts and attacks the linking of the joints causing inflammation.
- Nothing you or your child have done has caused JA. The disorder isn’t linked to any particular dietary habits or activities. Some doctors believe JA is genetic so it may run in families.
- While doctors have not yet discovered a cure for JA, they do have treatments that may reduce inflammation and joint damage. In addition to medication, physical and occupational therapy help reduce the symptoms.
- Some children with JA will experience remission for short periods of time and some permanently.
- Doctors encourage children with JA to participate in all the activities they love. While JA flares may make some physical activities more painful for a period of time, children with JA should not allow the disorder to keep them from having a full childhood.
- Most children with juvenile arthritis go on to live healthy, happy lives, but that doesn’t mean the diagnosis and treatments are easy for kids. Chronic illness can affect the mental health of your child and their caregiver (that’s you). Don’t hesitate to reach out to a counselor or therapist to give you both someone else to talk to when times are hard.
If your child has experienced warm, painful joints for more than six weeks, it’s time to see your pediatrician or primary care provider. We’re here for you at EliteCare Family Medicine. Walk in to see one of our providers 7 days a week or request an appointment online. We have X-RAY capabilities and can refer to you a rheumatologist if needed.