• 09 AUG 17
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    Can children get arthritis?

    Can children get arthritis?

    This is the myth of old times that arthritis is the disease of old age only. However, it is not limited only to old age group people. It can affect adults, young people, and even children. Yes, children can also have arthritis. This is shocking and the statistics about this are even more breath taking. As per research, one child among 1000 is suffering from arthritis. In the USA, the number of children affecting from one or another form of arthritis is nearly 300,000. In India, also it is affecting children to some extent. It is obvious that if arthritis is an insuperable problem for adults, then it would be more severe for children. Children who are stricken by arthritis are often delirious about how to overcome or deal with this condition. They feel like their life has become restricted, as they have to quit their favorite food such as chocolates and fast food. They find that they became dependent on medicines and they have to follow strict discipline to get rid of this. Arthritis in children is termed as Juvenile Arthritis. There are several forms of arthritis, which affects children. The children having arthritis under the age of 16 is termed as Juvenile idiopathic arthritis. This form of arthritis is not so common but if left untreated can cause major disability. This can be the acute or chronic condition. People generally do not accept the fact that the children can also have arthritis and they take it is a joke. This is due to lack of awareness and education among them. This is a severe condition and if ignored can lead to severe disability which can be for whole life.

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    What is Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA)?

    Juvenile idiopathic arthritis is a term used to describe arthritis in children and adolescents. It is an autoimmune and inflammatory joint disease affecting joints in children. It is the most common form of arthritis in children. This can be the chronic and long term. If we find that child is suffering from joint pain for more than 6 weeks and has swollen joints then he might be suffering from Juvenile idiopathic arthritis

    Age of onset

    This disorder can affect children at any age. It appears in children between 6 months and 16 years. Girls are more affected than boys are by this disease. At the onset, this disease can last up to six weeks or more than that even for 3 months.

    Signs and Symptoms

    It is very difficult to diagnose juvenile arthritis at the early stages. It affects knees, hands, limbs, and feet. It is at its peak in the morning. The signs include:

    • Inflammation and swelling
    • Morning stiffness
    • Joint pain
    • High fever
    • Growth retardation
    • Inflammation of eyes, liver, kidney, and skin
    • Weight loss
    • Anorexia
    • Fatigue

     

    Types of Juvenile Arthritis

    1. Oligoarticular: Effects fewer joints in the first six months of illness.
    2. Polyarticular: Effects more joints in the first six months of illness
    3. Systemic: Effects small and large joints accompanied by fever and rashes.

     

    Causes of Juvenile Arthritis

    The cause of this disorder is the mystery which is still not resolved. No one exactly knows what the reason behind this disease is. It is malfunctioning of the immune system in JIA and the cause for this malfunctioning is not known. Still, we try to underline some causes which can result in JIA as per following:

    1. Genetic factors
    2. Environmental factors
    3. Psychological stress
    4. The virus affecting the body.

    Diagnosis
    Like the causes for JIA are not known, the diagnosis is also very difficult because the pain affecting children can be due to some other diseases as well. It is not very easy to detect JIA in a single test. Some of the doctors fail to diagnose this condition.  Using the combination of blood test, x-rays and laboratory tests can help to some extent to diagnose the initial stage of JIA. Early diagnosis can only help to treat and manage JIA. If diagnosed at the early stage then it can be treated as well. It is important to get treatment from expert doctors only who have knowledge about childhood arthritis.

    Treatment

    Once the JIA has been diagnosed then treatment should be taken from pediatric rheumatologists only. As they are experts in this field and can better understand the needs of the child and their family. They have a proper team which helps the child to regain their normal life. It includes:

    • Social support
    • Physical therapy
    • Use of medicines

    The team for treatment for JIA comprises of medical professionals who include rheumatologist, occupational therapist (OT), physical therapist (PT), and nurse.

    Along with this, there must be changes in lifestyle as well to cure this disease. In order to manage and get rid of this disease we should try some of the following methods as well:

    1. To have physical exercise on regular basis.
    2. Intake of proper nutritional food
    3. Drink plenty of water

     

    The treatment of JIA is a combination of therapy, exercise, and use of medications. Medicines can prevent the pain but to cure this severe disease we must switch to therapy and exercise as well.

    Medicines for JIA

    Doctors advise nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen, to reduce inflammation and pain. These act by limiting the release of harmful chemicals from white blood cells. In case NSAID are not found effective in controlling the inflammation then disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) are also preferred such as Methotrexate. Other intravenous injections are also given at the hospitals.

    Use of medicines along with other treatments can surely help our child to live normal and happy life. Children need the expertise to diagnose and manage their disease as well. Unfortunately, very few pediatric rheumatologists are available in India. But still, we should take it on the serious note so that it cannot be lifelong and children suffering from JIA can live their life like other healthy children. If left untreated it can be problematic and can be life taking as well.

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