Juvenile Arthritis - Symptoms, Risk factors and Treatment

Juvenile arthritis, previously known as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, is one that occurs in children younger than 16 years of age. It is an autoimmune disease- a condition that occurs due to the hyperactivity of your immune system. Not only it affects your joints but can also pose damage to the lungs, nerves, skin, eyes, blood, and heart. The most common symptom of juvenile arthritis is joint pain with inflammation. For the treatment, the healthcare providers may prescribe over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs. Along with that, they may also prescribe low-dose corticosteroids that help lower inflammation by suppressing the immune system. 


Juvenile arthritis, if left untreated, can result in deformity of joints and bone erosion. The earlier the diagnosis of arthritis is made, the easier it is to treat the condition. If it is diagnosed later, it can cause lifelong complications. Therefore, you should never delay your visit to the healthcare provider if your child has a complaint of joint pain.  


Symptoms


Arthritis is a lifelong condition whose symptoms come and go, the periods known as flare and remission respectively. You may notice that your child faces difficulty in moving. The general signs and symptoms of juvenile arthritis are;


  • Tender joints

  • Warm joints

  • Swollen joints

  • Joint stiffness is usually worse in the mornings and after physical inactivity

  • Fatigue

  • Fever 

  • Loss of appetite

  • Loss of joint function and deformities


The characteristic sign of rheumatoid arthritis to differentiate it from other types of arthritis is that it occurs symmetrically. If anyone joint is affected, the chances are quite high that the same joint of the other side will be affected. 


Juvenile arthritis affects the small joints first, mostly the ones that connect your fingers to your hands and the ones that connect your toe to the feet. After that, it may affect large joints too, like the knee joint. Along with joints, it may also affect the following body parts.


  • Skin

  • Eyes

  • Lungs

  • Heart

  • Kidneys

  • Salivary glands

  • Nerve tissue

  • Bone marrow

  • Blood vessels



Types 


Juvenile arthritis is an umbrella term to describe various arthritis that occurs in children. It can be classified as;


  • Systemic arthritis

  • Oligoarthritis

  • Polyarthritis

  • Psoriatic arthritis

  • Enthesis-related arthritis


Systemic arthritis- also known as Still’s disease, includes the whole body except the eyes. It presents with high-grade fever and rashes.


Oligoarthritis- also called pauciarticular juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. It involves less than five joints in the first six months. Mostly, it affects the knee, wrist, and ankle.


Polyarthritis- also called polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis (pJIA). It involves more than five joints in the first six months. Often it involves the same joints on both sides of the body. 


Psoriatic arthritis- it can affect children and cause psoriasis along with arthritis. 


Enthesitis-related arthritis- is a type of arthritis that mostly affects the spine, eyes, hips, and entheses- a place where tendons attach to the bones. Often it occurs in boys elder than 8 years. 


Causes 


Juvenile arthritis is an autoimmune disease- a condition that occurs due to the hyperactivity of your immune system. It occurs when the immune system attacks the synovial membrane- a membrane that lines your joints. Due to this, the synovium swells, which can eventually destroy the cartilage and bone present within the joint. Slowly, the joint loses its alignment because the tendons and ligaments also lose their shape. 


Treatment 


For the treatment, the healthcare providers may prescribe over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or naproxen. Along with that, they may also prescribe low-dose corticosteroids that help lower inflammation by suppressing the immune system. Juvenile arthritis, if left untreated. can result in deformity of joints and bone erosion. The earlier the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis is made, the easier it is to treat the condition. If it is diagnosed later, it can cause long-life complications.


Complications 


Juvenile arthritis is an inflammatory condition that can damage the other parts of your body too. It can cause the following complications along with joint pain and swelling.


  • Dry eyes

  • Lymphomas 

  • Lung disease

  • Heart problem 

  • Osteoporosis

  • Dry mouth 

  • Infections 

  • Rheumatoid nodules

  • Abnormal body composition 


Conclusion 


Juvenile arthritis refers to the one that occurs in childhood. The term represents a collection of health conditions that can affect the child.


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