3 Kinds Of Juvenile Arthritis With Several Possible Treatment Options

November 12, 2012

3 Kinds Of Juvenile Arthritis With Several Possible Treatment Options

Juvenile arthritis is a common condition in many children but also easily treated with the help of medication, exercise, heat and splints.

If you have children, you might hear them complain how their joints ache. A joint is a place where the bones meet one another, which include:

  • Shoulder joint

  • Knee joint

  • Small joints in toes and fingers

Children’s joint pain is a result of several things. If you notice their joints have been persistently swollen for six or more weeks, then they might have juvenile arthritis.

What Is Juvenile Arthritis? What Causes It

Juvenile arthritis, which once used to be called juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, is a chronic, long-term disease that affects nearly 250,000 children, 16 years of age or under. It’s an autoimmune disorder, which means the body attacks the healthy cells and tissues it has. There are four arthritis steps:

  1. Joint becomes inflamed

  2. Joint will contract

  3. Joint begins to become damaged

  4. Joint begins to change in growth

For many cases, juvenile arthritis symptoms are mild and don’t grow to more severe cases like joint disease and deformities. However, in severe cases, it can cause joint and disuse damage and can lead to problems in bone growth and development.

No one knows why juvenile arthritis occurs although researchers think that some children are genetically prone to the disease. Some feel that environmental exposure is a cause for the condition. Bear in mind though that juvenile arthritis is not a hereditary condition and it’s unlikely that more than one child will suffer with it.

3 Kinds Of Juvenile Arthritis

There are actually three kinds of juvenile arthritis, which are classified based on their symptoms, amount of involved joints and if there are any antibodies present in the blood. Doctors classify them to determine how the disease is going to advance. They are called:

Oligoarticular – This means several joints, which means that only some of the joints are affected. Nearly 50 percent of all children with juvenile arthritis have this type of arthritis. In most children, it’s typically just one joint that’s impacted and is usually very mild with symptoms that can decrease or quit altogether over time. Joints that are typically impacted are:

  • Ankle

  • Knee

  • Wrist

Girls younger than eight years old are usually the common sufferers of this condition.

Polyarticular – About 30 percent of all children have this kind of juvenile arthritis, although it’s more commonly seen in girls than boys. It usually affects the smaller joints, generally five or more such as the feet and hands. And, the parts affected are on both sides of the body. It’s not uncommon for this condition to affect large joints too. Children with the IgM rheumatoid factor antibody will have a severe form of the disease, which means the body will attack its own tissues.

Systemic – Roughly 20 percent of all children have this kind of juvenile arthritis. It causes limited mobility, swelling and pain in one joint with additional symptoms like inflammation of internal organs and rash. A fever of 102 or higher for two weeks will cause this diagnosis. If not treated properly, it could develop into arthritis in several joints that lasts into adulthood.

Juvenile Arthritis Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Every child is affected different from juvenile arthritis. However, the most commonly seen juvenile arthritis symptoms are:

  • Painful morning joints that get better by the afternoon. You can notice it by the morning limp although your feet and hands may be affected.

  • Weakening of muscles and soft tissues.

  • Children may experience light pink rash and high fever that go away quickly.

  • Joint pain and swelling. Younger children may not complain of the pain but rather feel tired, irritable and unwilling to play. It’s not uncommon to have lymph node swelling in the neck and other body parts.

  • Joints may be warm to the touch because of the inflammation. In some cases, the internal organs will become inflamed.

  • Growth problems may also be a problem because the joints are growing too quickly or slowly or one side.

  • Possible eye problems are common with juvenile arthritis. However, an ophthalmologist will confirm the diagnosis. If left untreated, irreparable damage to the eyes can occur.

A child’s ability to function in the world demands that you give them relief from the inflammation and pain and keep joint damage from occurring. Your child’s doctor will order a battery of tests to confirm the diagnosis. He/she will do a complete medical history, physical examination, x-rays and blood tests to rule out possible conditions causing the juvenile arthritis.

Once the diagnosis has been made, your child’s doctor will suggest possible treatments including:

  • Medication with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs, biologic agents and corticosteroids.

  • Exercise can help with muscle tone, and your child’s doctor may recommend a physical therapist so you can develop the proper exercise program for your child.

  • Splints are often useful in younger sufferers to alleviate the inflation and keep contractures from occurring.

  • Electric blanks can help soothe those sore joints.

  • Of course, when everything else has failed to produce good results or your child has severe juvenile arthritis or complications, surgery may be needed to improve the joint’s position.

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