What Is Juvenile Arthritis and What Causes It?
July is Juvenile Arthritis Awareness month. According to the Arthritis Foundation, almost 300,000 children ages 18 and younger suffer from this condition in the United States. Juvenile arthritis is not defined by a single set of symptoms. It is a term used to describe several conditions that cause significant inflammation in the musculoskeletal system. Causes may vary drastically for each person. Here’s what you should know…
What Causes Juvenile Arthritis?
In some cases, doctors may not be able to pinpoint the cause of juvenile arthritis. Typically, however, it’s caused by an underlying autoimmune disorder. These conditions occur when the body’s immune system (organs, cells, and tissues that fight infection) start to attack healthy tissues and cells.
Children who get arthritis may be genetically predisposed to the autoimmune disorder, while others may have a virus that precipitates the inflammation. Research also indicates that allergies and toxins may play a role in childhood development of arthritis. Lyme disease, if unaddressed, may also cause arthritis.
Arthritis Symptoms and Types
Arthritis affects joints, bones, muscles, and more. Stiffness, clumsiness, lymph node swelling, and rashes may indicate the presence of arthritis. Common types include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis: This is the inflammation of the small joints in hands and feet, and it may lead to eye inflammation and growth development problems. In some cases of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, a child may develop osteoporosis from his or her disease, or from the medications used to treat the disease.
- Psoriatic arthritis: A form of arthritis that affects those who have psoriasis, a scaly, red skin condition. Psoriatic arthritis causes pain and swelling in the joints and can lead to the ultimate destruction of joints.
- Gout: A severe form of arthritis that can develop over time. It’s very painful and difficult to treat.
Some juvenile arthritis patients may recover from their symptoms and go into remission, while others must manage them into their adult lives.
Diagnosing and Treating Juvenile Arthritis
There’s no test to diagnose arthritis. A physician will carefully evaluate medical history and conduct a thorough physical exam. Most often, this will be done by rheumatologists – doctors who specialize in the treatment of musculoskeletal, vascular, and autoimmune disorders. The field of rheumatology is increasingly focused on finding immune related treatments to address all forms of arthritis.
Treatment will depend on the type of arthritis a child is experiencing. Many methods involve managing the pain associated with arthritis by using a combination of anti-inflammatory medication, exercise, and eating anti-inflammatory foods.
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Instructions and Disclaimer: The content on this website is designed for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses. Always consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your health.
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