Understanding Juvenile Arthritis

Remaining active is one of the best ways to help alleviate symptoms of juvenile arthritis.

Understanding Juvenile Arthritis

By Arthritis Connect StaffCA Published at October 10, 2014 Views 2,135

While many people believe that living with arthritis is primarily a problem for the elderly, the truth is that autoimmune forms of the disease can impact people of all ages. Juvenile arthritis doesn't affect as large a number of people as traditional variations of the disease do, but it's still prevalent enough to be aware of. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are approximately 294,000 known cases of juvenile arthritis and other rheumatic conditions in the U.S., with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis being the most common kind in youths. Check out these facts regarding juvenile arthritis, as wells as some warning signs to watch for in a child you know or love:

Development of JA

Juvenile arthritis primarily develops in teenagers, but it's also known to affect children of a younger age as well. It progresses due to inflammation occurring in the synovial membrane, which lines the joints in the knees and muscles. When these joints become inflamed, fluid is produced, resulting in experiences of swelling, pain and stiffness over time. Because juvenile arthritis is typically a chronic condition, these symptoms can continue recurring for months, even years at a time. This is why seeking out professional treatment sooner rather than later is highly recommended to nip symptoms in the bud.

Causes of JA

What's difficult about juvenile arthritis is that its origins are still relatively unknown and under-researched. Physicians have generally pinpointed two primary factors as the predominant causes of JA. Hereditary traits have been alluded to as the most common way for a child to develop the disease, so if a parent or ancestors has any history of arthritis, it could mean that the child is at a higher risk of JA. The other factor is hypothesized to be an environmental issue, with certain gene mutations potentially making a child more susceptible to inheriting the autoimmune disease.

Signs of JA

The main areas of the body where a child may notice arthritis pain tend to be the hands, feet and knees. It's also noted by the National Institutes of Health that arthritis symptoms in children typically reach their peak after waking up from sleep, specifically in the morning or after a nap. Other potential signs of JA occurring include:

• Skin rash or high fever
• Excessive limping
• General clumsiness
• Swelling in lymph nodes

What's also tricky about JA is that more often than not, symptoms tend to come and go without warning. When pain or swelling doesn't happen for an extended duration, it's called remission. When symptoms suddenly worsen it’s called a flare-up, and flare-ups should never be ignored.

Treating JA

To find out if a child is at risk for JA, schedule an appointment with your physician and report all the symptoms he or she has been experiencing. Typically, a physical exam will take place, as well as X-rays and other laboratory tests to officially determine if there is any indication of JA. Treating JA will most likely involve prescription medication, however, doctors still advise that a child remain physically active, which may also help alleviate symptoms of arthritis in a juvenile.

To learn more about youth and arthritis:

Do We Ever Really Grow Out of Our Growing Pains?
Confront Arthritis Challenges: Craft a Positive Vision for Your Future
Common Myths about Arthritis

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