Arthritis, an inflammation of bone joints, is generally characterized as an illness affecting people over the age of 50, so it can come as a great surprise to parents when their children are diagnosed with some form of it. What may be even more surprising is that roughly 300,000 children in the United States alone have arthritis, and the public is largely unaware of this fact.
The most common form of arthritis affecting children is named juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, affecting about 20% of those 300,000 children, and all parents should be educated on this debilitating disease in children. Doctors are not yet entirely sure what causes juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, but they believe that it is linked to autoimmune diseases, where white blood cells are unable to differentiate between normal and foreign cells.
The Familiar Symptoms
If a child has juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, parents may immediately begin to notice a limp or other signs of soreness among joints. While not uncommon among children by itself, other symptoms may include rashes and spiking fevers. If any of these symptoms occur for an extended length of time, a doctor should be consulted. The faster the diagnosis, the less damage will occur to cartilage and the joints affected by juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is easily diagnosed through a wide array of tests, not all of which need to be performed (although at least several likely will be). Diagnostic tools include blood tests, X-rays, and complete physical examinations. Also, tests for other diseases linked to juvenile rheumatoid arthritis may be performed, in addition to referral to an orthopedic surgeon to take samples of joint fluid for testing and further analysis.
A diagnosis usually takes several days. Once the test come back the pediatrician or doctor will work together with the orthopedic surgeon and any other medical professionals to develop a strategy to cure the child of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.
The good news for parents is that juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is easy to treat. Doctors can prescribe medication to help with the swelling and inflammation and referral to a physical therapist. Physical therapists generally point out exercises to improve the arthritis and improve muscle stamina and joint flexibility. Also, regular exercise is vital to ensuring that the child is protected against further arthritis by protecting bones and joints. Treatment serves two purposes: to protect and repair the joints from damage while reducing or eliminating the inflammation and pain.
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis can be an unsettling concept for parents, and it can make a child's life miserable. This disease can harm their social skills and make them irritable while hindering their physical development. However, through a quick diagnosis and easy treatment, parents can ensure that their children will never be harmed by juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.