Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis - Symptoms & Treatment
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) is a chronic disease resulting in joint pain and inflammation. The damage is caused by inflammation a normal response of the body's immune system. Arthritis is best described by four major changes in the joints that may develop. The inflammation often affects other organs and systems of the body as well. The term "juvenile rheumatoid arthritis" is actually an umbrella term for a group of conditions Inflammation causes redness, swelling, warmth, and soreness in the joints, although many children with JRA do not complain of joint pain. Anemia (a low red blood cell count) and elevated white blood cell counts are also typical. Arthritis may persist despite the fevers and other systemic symptoms going away. One type of JRA can also affect the internal organs. Doctors classify JRA into three types by the number of joints involved, the symptoms, and the presence or absence of certain antibodies found by a blood test. Treatment of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis focuses on preserving physical activity to maintain full joint movement and strength.
Arthritis is usually associated with adults. But no matter what symptoms appear, hearing the word arthritis used as a diagnosis for your child can be unexpected and confusing. Sometimes, a variety of tests may be necessary to come to a firm diagnosis. Once your child's physician suspects or makes this diagnosis, your child may be referred to a pediatric rheumatologist. This is a physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of children with arthritis and arthritis-related conditions. In most cases juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is not a lifelong disorder, and the signs and symptoms may fade after several months or years. Girls are more at risk than boys. Children who develop this form of JRA when they are younger than 7 years old have the best chance of having their joint disease subside with time, but are at increased risk of developing an inflammatory eye problem (iritis or uveitis) that may persist independently of the arthritis. Older children with pauciarticular JRA may develop "extended" arthritis that involves multiple joints and lasts into adulthood.
Causes of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis
The common Causes of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis :
- The cause is not known.
- It may be due to both genetic factors (from parents) and environmental factors (for example, from infections).
Symptoms of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis
Some Symptoms of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis :
- Eye inflammation
- Fatigue or irritability
- Joint stiffness on arising in the morning
- Weight loss
- Back pain
- Pain, swelling and tenderness in the joints
- A child may stop using an affected limb
Treatment of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis
- The goal of treatment is to control pain, prevent joints from losing motion, and to help already stiff joints move more easily.
- The doctor may need to take several tests, including blood tests or X-rays , to diagnose your child.
- Treatment also may include physical therapy. A specially trained doctor will help your child exercise and stretch.
- Walking, swimming, and biking are often recommended.
- Reducing stress may help decrease symptoms.
- JRA cannot be cured but it can be treated. Treatment is different for each person.
- Children may be given prescription medication.
- Parents can help by encouraging an active lifestyle. Exercise is very important.
- Sometimes, over-the-counter medicines for pain (such as Tylenol) are recommended.