Juvenile Arthritis, is it Affecting Your Child?

Juvenile arthritis seems so unfair. With adult arthritis we can perhaps blame our lifestyle to a certain extent but what has a child done to deserve this wretched disease? Well the answer is nothing at all.

Juvenile arthritis or JRA is not a degenerative disease such as osteoarthritis. It can be classified as an auto-immune disease and is therefore caused by the immune system attacking the body. The normal function of the immune system is to ward off outside enemies such as viruses, but in auto-immune diseases, the body turns on itself. Juvenile arthritis is also known as Juvenile chronic arthritis (JCA) It affects children sixteen years old or under.

What causes JRA is still unknown but it can be caused by a viral illness. In certain cases a child may be predisposed to arthritis due to a genetic factor which can also lead to rheumatoid arthritis in older individuals. JRA typically affects 1 child in every 1,000.

Types of juvenile arthritis

JRA can be divide into three distinct types. Pauciarticular, Polyarticular and Systemic. We will examine these on other pages, but briefly pauciarticular juvenile arthritis is the most common form and affects young children and more girls than boys.

Symptoms of Juvenile Arthritis

A typical juvenile rheumatoid arthritis symptom is swelling of the joints with pain and stiffness. Some children may also develop a limp which should be checked out as it could be one of the first signs.

If children are complaining of pain in their knees, seek medical advice. The knees are particularly prone to juvenile arthritis.

Other symptoms could be fever, more so later in the day and a pinkish rash could develop on the body.

Diagnosing Juvenile Arthritis

Diagnosis can be tricky and an accurate diagnosis may not be possible for at least six weeks, maybe even longer. However please seek medical advice as soon as you're aware of a problem.

Your doctor or rheumatologist will need your child's medical history and make need x-rays and a blood sample. This is also to rule out other possible diseases.

Not all cases of childhood arthritis progress into adulthood, some will resolve themselves as your child grows older so take heart!

Diet for Juvenile Arthritis

This is something your doctor may not tell you about, but a good diet is essential. Firstly if your child is overweight this is putting a strain on their joints and their development. A diet rich in vegetables (yes I know the problems here!), all grain cereals and low fat protein will keep your child healthy and help with their energy levels.

Exercise for Juvenile Arthritis

Swimming is the best as it puts no strain on aching joints. However most children are active and there's no harm in walking or running around and playing if your child's up to it.

Natural remedies are best as they are much safer than the traditional drugs. However don't go against your doctor's advice. Bring in the natural remedies bit by bit and in time you'll find you can reduce the drugs or even stop using them altogether.


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 Pauciarticular Juvenile Arthritis

Systemic and Polyarticular Juvenile Arthritis

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