July is Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month. That’s right, kids get arthritis. It is a common misconception that only “old” people are afflicted with arthritis. Nearly 300,000 children in America have been diagnosed with juvenile arthritis.
-Juvenile arthritis affects children of all ages and ethnic backgrounds. About 294,000 American children under age 18 have arthritis or other rheumatic conditions
-Scientists don’t know why this happens or what causes the disorder. Some think it’s a two-step process in children: something in a child’s genes (passed from parents to children) makes the child more likely to get arthritis, and something like a virus then sets off the arthritis.
-The most common symptoms of juvenile arthritis are joint swelling, pain, and stiffness that doesn’t go away. Other signs are swelling in lymph nodes in the neck and other parts of the body or a high fever and skin rash.
There is no easy way a doctor can tell if your child has juvenile arthritis. Doctors depend on many things like a physical exam, X-rays, and family history, to help determine juvenile arthritis.
My child has JA, now what do we do?
-There is no real “cure” for juvenile arthritis. Many children will go into periods of remission where they have no pain or symptoms for an extended time.
-Doctors who treat arthritis in children will try to make sure your child can remain physically active. Exercise is key to reducing the symptoms of arthritis and maintaining function and range of motion of the joints.
-Swimming is a good activity because it uses many joints and muscles without putting weight on the joints.
-Keeping a healthy diet will also help your child to maintain an overall good quality of life.