A diagnosis of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis in children is often confusing and overwhelming to both parents and the affected children. The fact is nearly 50,000 children in the US suffer from this condition, which may cause long term damage if not treated early.
Arthritis in general occurs due to inflammation of the joints. The inflammation of the joints in children below 16 years and causing arthritis like symptoms is referred to as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.
Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis Causes
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is an auto immune disorder, where the body’s immune system attacks the normal healthy joint tissues and causes inflammation and swelling. Exactly why the immune system flares up thus is not known and therefore, the disease is also referred to as juvenile idiopathic arthritis, indicating that the cause is unknown.
Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms
The most obvious symptoms of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis include swelling or redness around the joints particularly, the knees, elbow and shoulders, accompanied by pain. Be alert whether your child is experiencing stiffness in the joints, usually manifested as a limp particularly when he wakes up in the morning or after a nap. In cases, where arthritis is more systemic in nature, it may also cause fever and rash. Visit the doctor if pain, swelling and stiffness of joints persist for more than a week and particularly if accompanied by rash and /or fever.
Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis Prognosis
While itis rarely life threatening, the condition can considerably impact the quality of life in children. Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis prognosis is associated with depressive tendencies due to the inability of the child to participate in normal age appropriate physical activities.
One type of this condition, pauciarticular juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, typically affects fewer than 5 joints and targets the larger joints such as the hip, elbow, shoulder and knee. Commonly affecting children below 8 years, the prognosis for this condition includes inflammatory eye problems and increased risk of developing some form of arthritis in adult life.
Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment
The juvenile rheumatoid arthritis treatment should include a comprehensive approach aimed at not only relieving the physical symptoms like pain and swelling, but should also address the associated emotional issues and help the child lead as normal a life as possible. To this end, often counseling sessions are also recommended in conjunction with medical treatment and physical therapy.
Drugs commonly used in juvenile rheumatoid arthritis treatment include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents and steroids. In severe cases newer categories of medications such as disease modifying antirheumatic drugs (methotrexate) and immune suppressants (abatacept) may be used. In extremely severe cases, your doctor may recommend surgical juvenile rheumatoid arthritis treatment.