Juvenile Arthritis: What Is It?
Arthritis is a name that covers a wide range of physical ailments. In essence, it’s inflammation of the joints that causes pain and makes movements difficult. Juvenile arthritis is the term used when the patient is under age 17. In young patients, it can manifest itself not only as joint and connective tissue inflammation, but also as problems with the eyes, skin or digestive tract. There are different types of juvenile arthritis, and it seems to be on the rise. As of 2008, there were approximately 294,000 children under the age of 17 with arthritis.
What it is
Juvenile arthritis is often determined to be an auto-immune disorder. Normally, the immune system is activated by bacteria, viruses and other foreign objects that make their way into our bodies. Sometimes, however, the immune system begins attacking the body itself, which is where the term “auto-immune” comes from.
The causes of most types of juvenile arthritis are unknown. However, scientists seem to agree that genetic predisposition plays an important role. In other words, some children have genes that, when triggered by something in their environment, lead the immune system to attack itself, causing arthritis. For the moment, though, no single trigger has been confirmed. It is important to note that there is currently no evidence that points to a particular toxin, allergy or food that causes Juvenile Arthritis.
It can take a long time for Juvenile Arthritis to be diagnosed. Patients under 16 will need to be seen repeatedly by physicians. If a patient has swollen glands or internal organs, joint pain, joint swelling, tenderness and warmth for six weeks continuously, a diagnosis of Juvenile Arthritis is likely. While there are blood tests, their use is relatively limited and will not alone confirm or refute a possible arthritis diagnosis.
Unfortunately there is no cure for JA. The goal of treatment is to manage symptoms and permit patients to live lives that are as normal as possible. In young patients, eye care is an important part of a Juvenile Arthritis diagnosis, because some forms of Juvenile Arthritis indicate a strong possibility of eye problems later. Treatment can include medication, physical therapy and sometimes alternative therapies. Research companies like ANRF juvenile arthritis provide information on symptoms and are looking for ways to provide better treatment.
While juvenile arthritis is a life-long condition, sufferers can continue to lead normal lives. Psychologists and therapists can help families come to terms with the diagnosis and find coping strategies for the difficulties that accompany it.…