Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
Do children get arthritis?
Yes. Children suffer from arthritis which can involve any joint. The arthritis can be damaging and deforming if neglected. Most kinds of childhood arthritis come under the general heading of juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). Generally, children who develop arthritis before 16 years of age are considered to have juvenile arthritis.
The arthritis in children is relatively less common compared to adults.
What happens in JIA?
JIA involves pain and swelling in one or more joints lasting for weeks to months. The children also have difficulty in walking. Infact, the parents notice abnormality when their child is limping.
The most common forms of JIA
There are several types of arthritis. The following are usually common:
This is the most common form of childhood arthritis. It affects four or fewer joints in the body. Symptoms include swollen and painful joints, particularly involving the knees and/or ankles. Eye problems are quite common in this type of childhood arthritis. Specialist eye checks are needed periodically.
Polyarticular JIA is another type of juvenile arthritis. It affects many joints (more than five). The complaints include pain, swelling and stiffness of involved joints. In addition to joint symptoms, other symptoms include tiredness and eye inflammation.Systemic onset JIA
Systemic onset JIA is a type of childhood arthritis that typically begins with fever, rashes, lethargy and enlarged glands. Early signs are often mistaken for an infection in these children. Other symptoms include joint and muscle pains and tiredness. Usually this type of arthritis starts before five years of age.
How is childhood arthritis treated?
Treatment for children with arthritis is usually similar to the treatment in adults. However, the problems which crop up in everyday life can be very different in children. Children with arthritis need to lead as normal a life as they can. Maintenance of school attendance, participation in sports and social life is extremely important, although there may be a need to find some alternative resources in children with disabilities.Exercise is particularly helpful and many children with arthritis benefit enormously from swimming. More importantly, young people need to be part of their own age group and not be seen as different. By providing adequate social and family support, letting young people with arthritis develop their own independent coping skills is vital. Giving them plenty of support within the family and peers is therefore, crucial. Most young people with arthritis can compete intellectually with their peers and can develop relationships as they move towards adulthood.