Arthritis is generally thought of as an ailment of the elderly, an inflammation of the joints that can be caused by a number of age-related factors. But juvenile arthritis – which occurs in patients 16 and under – affects over 300,000 children and teens in the US alone. In honor of Juvenile Arthritis Awareness month, we’ve compiled some information to shed some light on this lesser-known condition.
What causes juvenile arthritis?
The exact cause of juvenile arthritis is idiopathic, or unknown, but physicians and researchers classify it as an autoimmune disorder. This means that it occurs as a result of the body mistaking its own systems for harmful foreign substances. As a result, the body attacks itself as it would a virus or bacteria, producing symptoms that can range from mild to debilitating. In the case of juvenile arthritis, these symptoms manifest as a swelling of the synovium – the tissue that lines the joints – causing pain, stiffness, and a potential loss of motion in various joints in the body.
There are actually several different types of juvenile arthritis that present themselves in different areas of the body. These include Stills disease (also called systemic arthritis), oligoarthritis (also called juvenile rheumatoid arthritis), polyarthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and enthesitis-related arthritis.
How is juvenile arthritis diagnosed?
Often times, juvenile arthritis does not present any symptoms, or its symptoms are easily misattributed to another illness. To get the correct diagnosis, physicians will likely use process of elimination, first testing for other more common ailments like bone disorders, Lyme disease, fibromyalgia, lupus, or cancer via blood tests, bone scans, x-rays, or joint-fluid sampling. Once those have been ruled out, and arthritis is determined as the likely culprit, additional tests will be conducted to discern what kind of arthritis is present.
How is juvenile arthritis treated?
Exercises, medication, and, in some cases, operations, can help alleviate the pain, swelling, and lack of mobility associated with juvenile arthritis, and help to prevent further damage to the joints. Allied Anesthesia’s physicians not only provide general anesthesia for children undergoing arthritis-related surgery, but also help to administer acute postoperative pain management treatments for those suffering from the condition. The physicians assigned to juvenile arthritis patients are deeply committed to their treatment, and work closely with the families affected over time to ensure the best possible care.
Does juvenile arthritis ever go away?
While there is no definitive cure for the condition, pain and swelling can be managed with effective ongoing treatment. There are also cases where children outgrow their arthritis as they enter adulthood, though this is not the norm. The good news is that research and funding is helping to develop new, more effective treatments for the condition. To find out more, head to https://curearthritis.org/juvenile-arthritis-awareness-month/.