Rheumatoid Arthritis in Children (Juvenile Arthritis, JRA)

Saima Andrabi   by Saima Andrabi, MS, Clinical Biochemistry    Last updated on November 17, 2020,

Introduction

Growing up with juvenile arthritis can be disheartening for both the child and the parents. Signs of pediatric arthritis are similar to those in an adult. Doctors say that there is no way to predict how the disease will progress, and therefore, exact treatment cannot be provided. They say that it becomes stressful for the children and their families to wait to see how their arthritis steps forward in the coming years. Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) is observed in children between 6 months and 17 years. Commonly used terms to describe rheumatoid arthritis in children (depending on the cause) are systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis, systemic juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile chronic arthritis, pediatric rheumatoid arthritis, etc.

Scientists have stated that juvenile arthritis can be related to genetics, unknown infections, or environmental triggers. They have found evidence that systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis is an autoimmune disease, and its exact cause is unknown.

Many parents initially do not understand 'what is juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.' Therefore, they need to observe their child's activities and take him to the doctor as soon as they feel anything abnormal. Doctors recommend that if chronic childhood arthritis is diagnosed, the treatment should be rapid and efficient. During juvenile rheumatoid arthritis treatment, a team of pediatric rheumatologists, physiotherapists, ophthalmologists, orthopedics, and a pediatric psychiatrist is mainly required.

Read:

What is Osteoarthritis?

What are the Causes and Risk Factors of Osteoarthritis?

Rheumatoid Arthritis in Teens

A patient shared her experience of juvenile arthritis that the first symptoms of juvenile RA in her occurred during her teenage (when she turned 14). She experienced sharp, excruciating pain in her knees during sleep and felt frozen hands and swelling with redness in knuckles. This was the start of juvenile arthritis for her. In many other patients, the same juvenile rheumatoid arthritis symptoms were observed.

Doctors hint that some common juvenile rheumatoid arthritis symptoms in children are stiffness in joints (especially in the morning), juvenile arthritis rash, limping (younger children are not able to perform motor skills, which he or she recently learned), persistent fever, sudden weight loss, sometimes eye redness or eye pain or blurred vision, etc.

To diagnose rheumatoid arthritis in kids, bone scans, joint fluid sampling, and synovial tissue sampling, detecting erythrocyte sedimentation rate, etc., are suggested by the doctors. These tests are recommended when suspected juvenile arthritis causes high fever, excruciating abdominal and joint pain, limping, rashes, etc.


Some parents fear that their child might suffer from juvenile osteoarthritis, but doctors say it is not true as osteoarthritis generally occurs in adults. Although, in some cases, signs of juvenile arthritis might be mistaken as juvenile spondylitis, lupus, Kawasaki's disease, or Still's disease. Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms in kids are mostly similar to that of teenagers as both have joint-related troubles. Though, it is seen that very small children also have problems in crawling (like adults have in walking), which somewhere affects the normal growth of the child.

Being a Warrior: Juvenile Arthritis Treatment

When we spoke to some parents whose children had juvenile arthritis (JRA), most of them shared that it was devastating for them to realize that one fine morning they realized that their child could actually not walk and suffered from extreme pain. Many parents reported that intense stomach pain and psoriasis on the swollen knees appeared as initial symptoms in their children.

Most parents stated that when rheumatoid arthritis is diagnosed in small children, it is very hard for them to cope with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis treatments such as physical therapy and occupational therapy to recover from the loss of motion & stiffness. But still, they fight their way to treat the disease. We came across a patient and her mother, who are together fighting juvenile chronic arthritis. The child's mother says that her girl has not opted to live like a sick child. She wants to play, do drama, etc., and live like a normal child. Her mother informed us that her child is taking her treatments seriously that has been very beneficial as she can sleep calmly without pain, play, attend school, and take part in all extracurricular activities.

Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis prognosis can be good if proper treatment reaches the patients. The main aim of juvenile arthritis treatment is to control symptoms, prevent joints from further damage, and maintain their functions.  Besides juvenile idiopathic arthritis treatment, therapists believe that having a positive outlook can be very constructive for recovery.

Saima Andrabi

Saima Andrabi is a clinical biochemist and is passionate about driving knowledge platforms for creating health awareness in the general public. She pursued her master’s degree in clinical biochemistry from University of Kashmir, Srinagar followed by an internship from National Institute of pathology, New Delhi. Her areas of interest include molecular biology, immunology, medical physiology and forensic medicine. Saima is very much interested in writing medical content and wants to create awareness in public through this platform.

 

Currently, Saima Andrabi is working at Maxinov Solutions Private LTD as a research associate and is associated with DiseaseFix as a medical content writer.


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