Find out if your child could be one of 294,000 children who suffer from juvenile arthritis.
When you hear the word arthritis, the first image in your mind might be of an elderly person barely moving around. However, imagine if that elderly person was instead a child younger than 16 that suffered from pain and inflammation in their joints due to juvenile arthritis.
So, how do you know if your child might have juvenile arthritis, being one of 294,000 children dealing with one of the most common childhood diseases in the U.S.? Unfortunately, there is no clear way to determine if a child develops juvenile arthritis, though some health experts believe there might be a genetic predisposition to JA that could be triggered by outside factors.
Some JA indicators are pain, swelling, tenderness and/or stiffness in the joints, high fevers that last for weeks or months, and a rash of pale, red spots on the body. Certain juvenile arthritis diseases have children feeling pain or discomfort in their knees, ankles, and wrists, depending on whether their condition is in smaller or larger joints. Arthritis has even been known to develop in the eyes, skin and in the gastrointestinal tract.
The most common juvenile arthritis form is Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) that occurs in children younger than 16 and is noticeable through initial swelling in one or more joints for at least six weeks.
The best diagnosis of juvenile arthritis is through a complete health history report by a pediatric rheumatologist, after consulting with your pediatrician first. This will include your child undergoing a physical exam and study of their medical records as well as possible x-rays, lab work and imaging tests to detect your child’s arthritis symptoms.
If your child has been diagnosed with juvenile arthritis, the best approach to take as a parent is to let them know the arthritis won’t stop them from being a kid. Your child could get angry or sad about their arthritis, so talking with them about their condition and sticking to a “normal” routine of physical activity, nutritional eating, eye care, and medication will help your child cope and even thrive.
As a parent, you could also face similar feelings of frustration and sadness so keeping a normal routine will be best for yourself and the family, including your child’s siblings. Make sure to devote time to your other children and have them be included in learning and caring for their sibling’s medical disease.
If your child has juvenile arthritis, they may have the disease but it doesn’t have them!
For more information, visit the Arthritis Foundation website at www.arthritis.org.
story by BLAIR TOWNLEY