What You Should Know About Arthritis in Kids
In the past, doctors and parents sometimes dismissed the symptoms of juvenile arthritis as typical growing pains. Unfortunately, it could be arthritis instead as the disease can strike children as young as two years old.
The Most Common Forms of Childhood Arthritis
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis is the most common form of the disease that affects children. It used to go by the name juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Idiopathic means that it is without a known cause. This condition belongs to a family of inflammatory conditions that include Still’s disease, systematic arthritis, systematic lupus erythematous, juvenile psoriatic arthritis and juvenile dermatomyositis. The thing that all of these diseases have in common is that they cause the immune system of a child to work improperly. Instead of fighting disease, it attacks the joints instead.
Symptoms of Arthritis in Children Not to Ignore
Some of the most common symptoms associated with the onset of arthritis in childhood include:
- Swelling: Redness or swelling that appears on the skin near the area of the painful joint is a typical sign of inflammation. It may feel hot to the touch or the child may simply complain about it feeling hot. The swelling can come and go and ultimately last for several days.
- Pain: It’s not unusual for kids to complain of pain after they have been working or playing hard. However, parents need to pay attention when a child wakes up in the morning or from a nap and already complains of pain. It may radiate to the child’s hands, knees, feet, jaw and neck as the day progresses.
- Stiffness: This symptom shows up most often first thing in the morning and may improve as the day goes on. The child may hold his or her leg or arm in one position because moving it hurts too much.
- Rashes: A rash that appears on the knuckles, bridge of the nose, on the cheeks, legs or arms may be a sign of juvenile arthritis. The rash can last for several weeks and can also ooze or itch.
- Eye problems: Persistent redness in the eye, blurred vision or pain may be one of the more serious indications of arthritis in children.
- Weight loss: A child who regularly has little appetite or often seems fatigued may be struggling with arthritis.
Remission of Symptoms is the Goal of Treatment
No cure exists yet for juvenile arthritis. Treatment focuses on long-term relief of pain, inflammation and other symptoms. Some of the most common ways to achieve remission include medication, healthy eating, eye care and physical therapy. Talk to your doctor if you are concerned about your child's risk of developing a juvenile arthritis condition. You may also contact the Arthritis Center of Lexington at 859-254-7000.