Can Kids Suffer From Arthritis Too? (Know about Juvenile Arthritis)

Diseases can come in any form and shape. However, there are a few of them that we assume only affect adults.

This notion needs a raincheck!

Although arthritis has been a problem more evidently found in adults, children too are seen affected by it. More commonly known as Juvenile Arthritis, this condition is caused by the inflammation of the joint (where two or more bones meet). If your child has been complaining of pain, swelling, stiffness or loss of motion lately, it is advisable to seek help from a doctor at the earliest.

Types of Juvenile Arthritis

Several types of arthritis affect children; however, the most common type is called Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (idiopathic means “from unknown causes”). It includes six subtypes,

  • Oligoarthritis
  • Polyarthritis
  • Systemic
  • Enthesitis-related
  • Juvenile psoriatic arthritis
  • Undifferentiated

Apart from this, other types of Juvenile Arthritis are,

  • Juvenile dermatomyositis, which causes skin rash and muscle weakness on the eyelids and the knuckles.
  • Juvenile lupus, which can affect many areas of the body such as the skin, kidneys, joints, blood, etc.
  • Juvenile scleroderma, which causes the skin to harden and tighten.
  • Kawasaki disease, which can lead to heart complications due to blood-vessel inflammation.
  • Mixed connective tissue disease, which includes certain features of arthritis, lupus dermatomyositis, and scleroderma.
  • Fibromyalgia, which causes stiffness, aching, fatigue, disrupted sleep and a few more problems.

Causes of Juvenile Arthritis

Juvenile arthritis is an autoimmune disorder, wherein the human body attacks a few of the body’s own healthy cells and tissues. While experts are still looking for the possible cause of this condition in children, genetics, and environmental factors can be one of the many reasons.

Symptoms of Juvenile Arthritis

A rheumatic disease, inflamed supporting structure(s) causes the loss of function in juvenile arthritis. It can also involve internal organs in a few cases.

Children suffering from this problem might not show any symptom as it depends on the type of arthritis. A few symptoms you must never ignore are,

  • Joint stiffness, especially in the morning
  • Pain, swelling, and tenderness in the joints
  • Limping
  • Persistent fever
  • Skin Rashes
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Eye redness or eye pain
  • Blurred vision

Diagnosis for Juvenile Arthritis

As the symptoms vary from type to type, and may also be associated with some other disease, diagnosing juvenile arthritis can be difficult. There is no particular test for this, however, it may start with the doctor excluding other conditions. A few of the tests that might be ordered are,

  • Complete blood count (white cells, red cells, and platelets)
  • Lab tests on urine
  • X-rays to scan the bones
  • Imaging tests (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)
  • Blood culture
  • Tests for viruses and Lyme disease
  • Bone marrow exam
  • Erythrocyte sedimentation rate
  • Test for rheumatoid factor
  • Antinuclear antibody test
  • Joint fluid sampling
  • Synovial tissue sampling

Living with Juvenile Arthritis not only affects the child but the whole family. While it is crucial that you get your child diagnosed and treated at the earliest, a few ways to support the child at school and home are,

  • Learning as much as you can about juvenile arthritis and its treatment
  • Joining a support group
  • Treating your child as normally as possible
  • Encouraging exercise and physical therapy every day
  • Talking to your child about his or her condition and feelings
Dr. Mandar Agashe
Consultant – Paediatric Orthopedic
SRCC Children’s Hospital
Mumbai

(27 Posts)

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