Arthritis is most commonly associated with older adults; however, juvenile arthritis can be a serious issue for children and greatly change their lives.
Juvenile arthritis affects nearly 300,000 children in the United States. Treatment options exist to help those who are suffering and help them return to their normal live.
Read on to learn more about juvenile arthritis.
WHAT IS JUVENILE ARTHRITIS?
Juvenile arthritis is a term used to cover many autoimmune, inflammatory and pediatric rheumatic diseases that children under the age of 16 can develop. Juvenile arthritis can affect areas such as joints, muscles, gastrointestinal tract, eyes and skin.
There are many forms of juvenile arthritis. Most types share symptoms, but each individual type has its own distinct characteristics.
TYPES OF JUVENILE ARTHRITIS
Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
This type of arthritis is the most common form of juvenile arthritis. The immune system attacks the body’s tissue, which causes inflammation in joints and possibly other areas of the body. This form of juvenile arthritis includes six subtypes of arthritis including:
- Oligoarthritis: causes arthritis in up to four joints, usually larger ones, at the same time and could cause eye inflammation as well, especially in children who test positive for antinuclear antibody.
- Polyarticular: this subtype is known to cause inflammation in at least five smaller joints and can be diagnosed rheumatoid factor-positive or negative.
- Systemic: this subtype causes inflammation in one or more joints and is often accompanied by a skin rash and a high spiking fever that can last at least two weeks
- Enthesitis-related: causes inflammation in joints and potentially other areas of the body and is accompanied by tenderness when the bone meets a tendon, ligament or other connective tissue.
- Juvenile psoriatic arthritis: arthritis that occurs along with a skin disorder called psoriasis which causes a red rash behind the ears, on the eyelids, knees, scalp, belly button and elbows. Psoriasis can develop years before the joint pain begins.
- Undifferentiated: juvenile arthritis that does not fit into the subtypes above or has symptoms of multiple subtypes.
Juvenile Dermatomyositis, a type of autoimmune disease, causes muscle inflammation, resulting in muscle weakness. This type of disease can also cause a visible rash that can occur on an individual's eyelids and knuckles.
Juvenile lupus is the most common form of lupus. This autoimmune disease can affect the joints, kidneys, skin, blood and other areas of the body. Symptoms might include joint pain, fatigue, pain, joint swelling, skin rash, fever, hair loss, mouth sores, or skin color change due to cold. Fatigue and joint pain are the most prominent of the symptoms.
Juvenile scleroderma, a rare form of arthritis, covers multiple types of arthritis that cause the skin to begin to tighten and harden. There are two main types known as localized scleroderma and systemic sclerosis.
- Localized scleroderma is more common in children and affects the skin, muscle, bones and joints.
- Systemic sclerosis will affect the entire body including internal organs.
This type of arthritis is more common in girls but can still affect boys.
Kawasaki disease, another rare disease, is a condition which causes inflammation of blood vessels, especially coronary arteries, which can lead to long-term heart complications.
This type of arthritis affects mainly children under two years of age.
There are a multitude of symptoms which can develop including:
- bright red chapped lips
- runny nose
- abdominal pain
- joint pain and swelling
- peeling skin in the genital area, hands and feet
- red mucous membranes in the mouth
- skin rashes
- white coating on the tongue
- red bumps on the back of the tongue
- swollen hands and feet
- swollen lymph nodes
- bloodshot eyes
Mixed Connective Tissue Disease
This is a rare condition where for an unknown reason the immune system turns against the body.
Early symptoms include fatigue, mild fever, cold and numb fingers, swelling of the fingers and muscle and joint pain. Later on, major organs might be affected by the disease.
Fibromyalgia causes stiffness, aching and fatigue. Fibromyalgia is rarely diagnosed before a child goes through puberty and is usually more common in girls.
This is not considered a disease rather simply a constellation of symptoms that are highly manageable. It can be brought upon do to a trauma, injury, or infection; however, others who have not been through a trauma or injury can develop fibromyalgia.
Symptoms include pain, fatigue, trouble sleeping, mood changes, concentration problems, headaches and abdominal pain.
Scientists are currently identifying more causes for fibromyalgia.
TREATMENTS FOR JUVENILE ARTHRITIS & MANAGEMENT TIPS
Juvenile arthritis can not be cured; however, it can be treated for pain management, relieve inflammation and improve your child’s quality of life.
When treatment is applied aggressively and early enough on, it can cause remission.
Improving the quality of life for the child is the overall goal of treatment. Most of these treatments involve a combination of eye care, physical activity, medication and a healthy diet.
With treatment beginning early enough, a child diagnosed with juvenile arthritis could potentially return to their life and continue to do the things they love.
JUVENILE ARTHRITIS PREVENTION
Most scientists believe that one of the main causes is genetics, but many causes of juvenile arthritis have not been identified, meaning there is little to no form of prevention.
This does not mean there is absolutely nothing you can do. Paying attention to the symptoms and warning signs of juvenile arthritis can help you catch the disease early on.
MOUNTAINSTATE ORTHOPEDIC ASSOCIATES
At Mountainstate Orthopedic Associates, we encourage patients to address their joint pain early on so if a child develops a form of juvenile arthritis, treatment can begin as soon as possible.
Our goal is to provide every child, whether diagnosed with juvenile arthritis or not, the best possible life they can have.
If you suspect your child might be experiencing symptoms of juvenile arthritis, give us a call at 304-599-0720, or click below to schedule an appointment.