Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
Arthritis used to be the sickness associated with old people and old age. It has always been seen as something that comes when someone approaches old age. These days, we have discovered that arthritis does not only affect older people.
There is a common type of arthritis that affects younger people, mostly those below the age of 16. Previously known as Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis is one type of arthritis that can cause temporary to permanent damage to the joints of people younger than the age of 16.
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Causes Of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
Certain factors like a genetic mutation, viral infection, hereditary factors and environment can make one susceptible to the trigger of this disease. However, this type of arthritis happens when a person’s immune system is attacked by its cells and tissues.
Types Of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
There are different types of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis; however, the main ones include
- Systemic Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
- OilgoarticularJuvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
- Polyarticular Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
Signs and Symptoms
The most widely associated sign of arthritis is joint pain. However, there are other symptoms you must look out for in your child, and they include:
- Swelling in the joint: usually, the swelling is noticed in the larger joint like the knee. But a swollen knee is one of the signs of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis.
- Stiffness in joints: Stiffness of the joint is felt or noticed after rest, nap or sleep. You may also notice clumsiness in your child.
- Pain: it may start as mild in the beginning, but over time, the pain increases. You will notice the pain when the individual limps when walking.
- Rash, swollen lymph nodes and fever: High fever is part of the symptoms of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, although it is not common for everyone affected. You may also notice a rash or swollen lymph nodes that look worse in the evening.
Note that JuvenileIdiopathic Arthritis does not only affect one joint. It can affect two to several joints in the body, and as such, the symptoms are dependent on the type of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis your child has and the number of joints affected.
The symptoms can flare up and become prominent at certain times, and at other times, they can disappear. However, they will not disappear completely until your child has been treated.
Who is at risk?
Every child below the age of 16 is at risk of having Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis. However, there are types of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis that are more common in females than in males.
Preparing For Diagnosis
Once you notice the symptoms of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, you should see a doctor for proper diagnosis.Note that it is only an arthritis specialist that can confirm Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis and discuss treatment. While you wait for your appointment, you can do the following:
- Have all information about previous medical issues of your child ready
- Have all information regarding your family medical problems ready
- Put down detailed descriptions of symptoms your child has experienced
- List all the medications and supplements your child takes
- Put down any possible questions you might like to ask the doctor
During examination by the specialist, you might be asked some questions. Some of them may include
- Which part or parts of the joint are affected?
- When the symptoms first appeared, and whether they remained or not?
- Whether the symptoms are made worse or better by anything?
- If the stiff joint is worse after rest or not?
There are other problems that can cause pain and problems in the joint, and this makes it difficult for Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis to be effectively diagnosed. Different tests are run for the diagnosis of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, but while this may not confirm the presence, it will rule out other possible diseases that cause similar symptoms.
There are two possible ways of diagnosing Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, and they include:
- Blood tests
Some blood tests can be conducted to help confirm suspected cases. Sadly, these tests do not detect significant abnormality present in the case of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis. They only help to rule out other possible causes. The blood tests include:
- Anti-nuclear antibody: these are proteins produced by the immune system of certain people with certaindiseases of the immune systemlike arthritis. They are also used to detect eye inflammation.
- Rheumatoid factor: this is an antibody found in the blood of children who have Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis.
- Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate: Sedimentation Rate is the speed at which your red blood cells settle at the bottom of a test tube containing a blood sample. A blood test measures this rate, as an increased rate signifies inflammation. The Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate measures the degree of this inflammation if present.
- C-reactive protein: This blood test works similarly as the Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate, in that it also measures the degree of inflammation. However, its scale of detection is different from the Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate.
- Cyclic citrullinated peptide (CCP): Justlike the Rheumatoid factor, this is another antibody that can be present on the blood of children who have Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis.
- Imaging scan
Magnetic Resonance Imaging or X-rays can also be used for diagnosis of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis. However, these can be used at the exclusion of other conditions such as defects, tumours or fractures. After a successful diagnosis, they can still be used to monitor possible joint damage or development of bone.
When to see a doctor
At best, it is not advisable to allow symptoms of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis to linger as its effect can be permanent. Once your child complains, or you notice swelling of the joints, pain or stiffness that has lasted a week, see a doctor immediately. The signs may or may not be accompanied by fever and rash.
Treatment of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis can be achieved either by medication, therapy, surgery or a combination of two or all of these strategies. The treatment is just to improve the development of the child while reducing symptoms and preventing permanent damage.
The various treatment options include:
These medicines are meant to reduce pain and stiffness of the joints, improve the function and growth of joint, as well as prevent damage. Different medications include:
- Biological agents
This new class of drugs reduce systemic inflammation and reduce the damage on joints. They are also known as biological response modifiers and include tumour necrosis factor(TNF) blockers like etanercept (Enbrel) and adalimumab( Humira). There are other types of biological agents that work on the suppression of the immune system, and they include rituximab (Rituxan), abatacept (Orencia) and anakinra (Kineret).
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
These drugs simply reduce pain and swelling in the joint. They have minimal to no side effects such as stomach upset and liver problems. They include ibuprofen and naproxen sodium.
An example of this medication is prednisone, and it can be used to control symptoms until a new medication takes its place. They are also used for the treatment of inflammation in other areas besides the joint.
- Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs ( DMARDs)
This drug is used when NSAIDs do not succeed in completely removing pain and swelling in the joint, or when there is a high risk of failure in the future. Also, it can be used together with NSAIDs mainly for the stalling of the progress of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis. Its side effects include nausea and liver problems.
Therapy can be used as a treatment option when there is a threat of significant damage to the joint. With the aid of a physical therapist, exercises, joint support and splints are tools from protecting the joint, keeping them flexible and maintaining them in a functional position as well as their range of motion and muscle tone.
Surgery becomes an option when the case is extreme, and the position of the joint needs to be improved.
Long term effects
If left untreated, or not treated on time, Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis can have devastating, long term effects. However, it can be avoided when there is adequate attention to your child’s condition and treatment. Some of the effects that may arise as a result of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis include:
- Stunted growth: Mostly resulting from the medication used, especiallyCorticosteroids, the growth of your child can be inhibited. Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis can also interfere with the development of the bones of your child.
- Vision problems: inflammation of the eye can occur simultaneously, and does not usually show symptoms. To avoid this, your child should be taken to see an ophthalmologist in intervals. Note that eye inflammation is only a factor in some types of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, and if left untreated, can lead to glaucoma and even blindness.
Home Remedies And Support
When your child has Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, you can use some home remedies to help them feel better and limit the effects.
You can also teach them some of these remedies, such as:
- Cold or hot therapy
Stiff joints are usually worse after sleep or rest. A cold compress from a pack, a hot compress or a cold or hot bath can provide relief. You just have to find which one works for your child.
- Regular exercise
Exercise helps to strengthen muscles and improve joint movement. You can start off with exercises that do not involve much stress on the joints.
- Proper diet
Weight loss or gain can be a problem as a result of the loss of appetite or medications. Proper integration of calcium in the diet can prevent the onset of osteoporosis. In most cases, children who have Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis have a high risk of developingosteoporosis. Calcium can prevent that, and also maintain healthy body weight and development.
During recovery, the parents have as much role to play as the child. Show your support and encouragement for your child as they go through this phase. As much as possible, do not treat them differently from other members of the family, and also make them understand that the disease is not as a result of what they have done.
Encourage your child to engage more in physical activities by joining them. You should not forget to let their teachers and school authorities know about their condition.
Have you noticed any symptoms of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis in your child? Reach out to us on 020 71837056 as soon as possible for proper diagnosis and treatment. We at Health Screening Clinic London provide the best private health checks. Get in touch with us today.
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