What is Juvenile Arthritis?
Juvenile arthritis is the umbrella term for the types of arthritis which occur in children. Children may develop a juvenile form of arthritis any time after birth. In children, these diseases may be quite different from those affecting adults.
What are the Symptoms of Juvenile Arthritis?
Signs are different in each child, sometimes the disease will flare up, in other cases the children will have symptoms that never go away. The most common signs include:
- Unexplainable swollen, painful and stiff joints, which persist over a period of time.
- Limping first thing in the morning because of an affected knee.
- Swollen lymph nodes, situated in the neck.
- Eye inflammation sometimes occurs, so bring your child for regular eye tests as a preventative measure.
What are the Causes of Juvenile Arthritis?
It is unclear what causes the disease, although it is suspected that genetics and environmental factors may trigger the development of the disease.
Traditional Medical Treatments for Juvenile Arthritis
This depends on the pattern of arthritis present, its duration and the degree of damage that has occurred. Usually the prognosis is very good for children with just a few joints involved. With proper therapy children with all forms of arthritis will usually improve over time. Indeed the vast majority of children with arthritis grow up to lead normal lives without significant difficulty. Even for severe cases, with appropriate medication, proper physical and occupational therapy, or surgery if necessary, a good quality of life is attainable.
Complementary/Alternative Treatments for Juvenile Arthritis
Exercise is an important part of a child’s treatment plan. It can help to maintain muscle tone and preserve and recover the range of motion of the joints. A physiatrist (rehabilitation specialist) or a physical therapist can design an appropriate exercise program for a person with JRA. The specialist also may recommend using splints and other devices to help maintain normal bone and joint growth. Many adults seek alternative ways of treating arthritis, such as special diets or supplements. Although these methods may not be harmful in and of themselves, no research to date shows that they help.