Symptoms of Juvenile Arthritis
Juvenile Arthritis (JA), also known as pediatric rheumatic disease, comprising multiple autoimmune and inflammatory conditions, affects almost 300,000 children in America. Although there are some common symptoms, each type of juvenile arthritis has its own unique symptoms and special concerns.
Types of Juvenile Arthritis
The most common type of Juvenile Arthritis is called Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, or JIA, which means that no exact cause is known. From this umbrella, there are six subtypes of JIA, though none are contagious. Currently, researchers believe that Juvenile Arthritis may be related to genetics, certain infections, and environmental triggers, and are continuing to study the multiple types of each.
- Systemic Onset JIA: also called Still's Disease. this causes inflammation in one or more joints and is often accompanied by a high fever and a rash in the arms or legs, that lasts for at least two weeks. About 10% of children have this type, and both boys and girls are equally affected.
- Oligoarticular JIA: also known as Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, this affects five or fewer joints in the first six months that the child has the disease. Children with this are more likely to get chronic eye inflammation than those with other types. More common in girls than boys, many children will outgrow this disease by the time they are adults.
- Polyarticular JIA: inflammation in five or more joints, and can be either rheumatoid factor positive or negative. This disease occurs in 25% of children, and is also more common in girls than in boys.
- Psoriatic Arthritis: arthritis combined with psoriasis, which may begin years before joint symptoms like pain or swelling in joints. Children with this type of arthritis often have pitted fingernails.
- Enthesitis-Related JIA: characterized by enthesitis, tenderness where the bone meets a tendon, ligament, or other connective tissue. This type is more common in boys between the ages of 8 and 15.
- Undifferentiated Arthritis: a juvenile arthritis that doesn't fit into any of the above categories, or when symptoms span more than two types.
Symptoms of Juvenile Arthritis
Children with Juvenile Arthritis can have no symptoms at all, or their symptoms may vary based on the type of arthritis that they have. These symptoms may include:
- Joint stiffness.
- Pain, swelling, or tenderness in the joints.
- Limping or loss of motor skills.
- Persistent fever.
- Weight loss.
- Eye redness or eye pain.
- Blurry vision.
While there is no test that is specific to Juvenile Arthritis, the diagnosis is made based on the exclusion of other conditions that may cause similar symptoms.
Treatment for Juvenile Arthritis
Different types of juvenile arthritis require different types of treatments or treatment plans. Goals include pain relief, reduced swelling, increased joint mobility and strength, and preventing damage and swelling.
- Mountain Ice: this topical pain reliever has anti-inflammatory properties that help to relieve joint and muscle pain and swelling. Its deep-penetrating formula allows for absorption into the injured area for effective relief that treats pain at its source.
- Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): anti-inflammatory medications that are used to treat pain and swelling, including ibuprofen and naproxen.
- Disease-Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs (DMARDs): used to treat pain and swelling over longer periods of time.
- Corticosteroids: used to treat pain and swelling.
- Antimetabolites: aggressive drug therapy aimed at helping reduce further joint damage and preserve joint function.