Juvenile arthritis, commonly referred to as JA, is a condition many have heard of but few understand. For instance, did you know JA is not an actual disease but an umbrella term referring to the number of autoimmune and inflammatory conditions affecting children under 16?
Seven conditions fall under the juvenile arthritis umbrella including:
- Juvenile idiopathic arthritis, the most common type of JA.
- Juvenile dermatomyositis, an inflammatory disease causing muscle weakness and rashes on the eyelids and knuckles.
- Juvenile lupus, an autoimmune disease affecting several areas of the body including skin, joints, kidneys, and blood.
- Kawasaki disease, a disease that can affect the heart by causing inflammation in blood vessels.
- Juvenile scleroderma which causes the skin to harden and tighten.
- Fibromyalgia, an arthritis-related condition most common in girls who have reached puberty that causes fatigue, stiffness, aching and other symptoms.
- Mixed connective tissue disease carries symptoms related to other JA conditions including scleroderma, lupus dermatomyositis, and arthritis. It is linked to high levels of the antinuclear antibody, anti-RNP.
Symptoms and Causes of Juvenile Arthritis
Most JA conditions share some common symptoms such as pain, joint swelling, redness, and warmth. However, each condition is unique and carries its own symptoms such as muscle weakness and symptoms affecting the skin, eyes and GI tract.
No known causes of juvenile arthritis diseases have been identified, although some research suggests patients may have a genetic predisposition to JA.
Juvenile Arthritis Diagnosis and Treatment
The best way to properly treat JA is to get a correct diagnosis, a task easier said than done. No single blood test exists to identify JA diseases making diagnosis a long and drawn out process. Though some specific tests will likely be administered to help find answers, a diligent physical exam and complete look into one’s medical history is essential to a correct JA diagnosis.
Currently, there are no cures for juvenile arthritis, however proper treatment can lead to remission. The key to treatment is helping your child understand the importance of following treatment instructions from their healthcare team. Treatment aims to relieve inflammation and pain associated with JA, and to give children a better quality of life.
If you suspect your child displays symptoms of juvenile arthritis, schedule an appointment with a doctor immediately. Early diagnosis and treatment is essential to remission. EliteCare is a family-centered medical clinic conveniently open seven days a week so you never have to wait to get medical help. Schedule an appointment for your child with our clinic today.