Tag Archives: childhood pain

Children Can Develop Arthritis Too

According to the Arthritis Foundation, “Juvenile arthritis is an umbrella term used to describe the many autoimmune and inflammatory conditions or pediatric rheumatic diseases that can develop in children under the age of 16.” While people often don’t think children are susceptible to arthritis, the actuality is that over 300,000 American children develop an arthritic condition annually.

An All-Encompassing Affliction

Juvenile arthritis (JA) can present in many ways, sometimes affecting the entire body including eyes, skin, joints, muscles, and stomach.

Common Types of Juvenile Arthritis

Some of the most common types of JA fall under the category (JIA) juvenile idiopathic arthritis which encompasses psoriatic arthritis, oligoarthritis, polyarthritis, undifferentiated systemic and enthesitis-related arthritis. Other common forms are juvenile lupus, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) and juvenile dermatomyositis. Another, rarer form of JA is Kawasaki disease which affects the arteries and blood vessels. Unlike some of the idiopathic varieties, children with Kawasaki disease can recover with appropriate treatment and not have future issues or complications. There are others as well, but these are the most prevalent forms.

Signs and Symptoms to Watch Out For

Believing their child to just be going through ‘growing pains’, many parents may miss the signs of JA. Juvenile arthritis may not present exactly like adult-onset arthritis. Some children don’t have straightforward joint pain and inflammation, and each of the different JA conditions may cause different symptoms. But some of the common signs and indicators that your child may be silently suffering from arthritis could include:

  • Unexplained and recurring fevers
  • Limping or favoring or certain limbs
  • If the child is very young they may whine and cry when moving or walking
  • Redness and swelling of one or more joints
  • Recurring eye problems such as conjunctivitis
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Limited range of motion in legs or shoulders
  • Rashes
  • Weight loss
  • Pain that goes beyond simple ‘growing pains’, perhaps in different areas such as the back, ribcage, or multiple smaller joints

Many of these symptoms can be attributed to other conditions when standing alone, but if you notice many of these occurring together it is worth checking into JA. Also, there are many other symptoms that may be arthritis type specific, so read more about each different condition under the JA umbrella here.

Treatment and Prognosis

While there is no cure for JA, early detection can allow for the correct treatments which can alleviate many of the symptoms and help with quality of life and prognosis. Many arthritis medications are too strong or would be dangerous for children, but there are treatments available to help control the child’s inflammation and pain such as certain NSAIDs. Sometimes certain disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDS) may be used to help slow the progression of arthritis. Sometimes corticosteroids are used, but these have pretty severe side effects and are most often the last option used especially for children. Medications are often used in conjunction with lifestyle changes, routine check-ups and management plans that may include certain exercises.

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