It’s commonly assumed that arthritis only affects the elderly, but this isn’t true. That’s why the month of July is Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month, to bring attention to the condition that affects nearly 300,000 children and teens in the United States.
What is juvenile arthritis?
Juvenile arthritis (JA) is actually an umbrella term that encompasses multiple inflammatory and rheumatic diseases. Different factors can cause the synovium—the tissue lining the inside of joints—to become inflamed, and it’s considered to be juvenile arthritis when this occurs in children 16 or younger. JA also happens to be an autoimmune disease, which means that it involves the immune system (whose normal purpose is to attack foreign invaders) attacking healthy joint tissues instead.
Symptoms & Diagnosis
In some cases, children with JA experience no symptoms at all. In other cases, JA can cause joint stiffness, pain, swelling, or tenderness. Other symptoms can include limping, fatigue, blurred vision, rash, or persistent fever.
There is no specific test for diagnosing JA, so doctors typically make their diagnosis by eliminating other conditions that could lead to similar symptoms. Common tests that may be ordered include a complete blood count, x-rays, MRI scans, tests for viruses and Lyme disease, among others.
With a combination of exercise, physical therapy, medications, and regular doctor visits, it’s possible to manage the symptoms of JA and slow its progression. Two of the most common classes of medications used to treat JA are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and slow-acting anti-rheumatic drugs (SAARDs). Newer and more effective drugs are also continuously being developed.
If you have any questions about JA, the Wellness & Stress Clinic is here for you. Please call the clinic at (901) 306-5433 to schedule an appointment. As always, stay healthy and stay safe!
–The Wellness & Stress Clinic Team