Junior rheumatoid arthritis is known by a few names. These are junior rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis or even juvenile idiopathic arthritis. It is characterized by a persistent arthritic condition being present in a child aged 16 or younger. Arthritis affects approximately 1 in every 1000 children and can affect them for any length of time from months to years.
Signs and Symptoms of Junior Rheumatoid Arthritis
Junior rheumatoid arthritis is generally classified into 3 forms, essentially by how the arthritis starts affecting the patient. They are pauciarticular, where four or less joints are affected, polyarticular; where more than four joints are affected, and systemic-onset, where there are inflamed joints, a rash and high fevers.
Other symptoms can include lethargy and poor appetite, if a knee or leg is affected, the child may be limping. There is possibly going to be swelling too. Common joints affected are knees, ankles, wrists and any of the smaller joints in the hands and feet.. Pain is a common and important symptom, though it is likely a sufferer will also endure morning stiffness which appears to clear up later in the day.
Causes of Junior Rheumatoid Arthritis
Although the cause of junior rheumatoid arthritis is unknown, there is a belief that it is an auto-immune disease. This means that the body starts attacking healthy tissue for no apparent reason. There are a few factors that have been discovered in regards to junior rheumatoid arthritis. There may be an element of genetic predisposition, females have been found to develop it more often than males. It can be triggered by trauma or a virus. Psychological stress may be a factor in worsening the symptoms.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Junior Rheumatoid Arthritis
Children often suffer from pains, be it joint pain or growing pains. Diagnosing junior rheumatoid arthritis can be difficult but doctors will carry out a variety of tests in order to do so. Blood tests and x-rays are the most common form of testing with MRIs also used to diagnose the condition. Doctors may also take fluid from the joint to analyze it in order to confirm the diagnosis. This will help to eliminate other causes of the pain.
Treatment options for junior rheumatoid arthritis are quite varied and can involve a number of specialists. Physical therapy is essential as it will help to keep the patient moving and assist them in keeping life as normal as possible. Pain management strategies will also be essential as the condition in itself can be very painful and may inhibit the child from wanting to lead a normal life.
Medications will probably be prescribed to treat the junior rheumatoid arthritis. These will range from non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications to medications that suppress joint inflammation. Corticosteroid injections may also be helpful in minimizing the effects of the symptoms. New medications are being developed to assist in the treatment of this chronic condition. Two small studies found that increasing the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids may help.
Getting regular exercise is essential to children suffering from junior rheumatoid arthritis. Exercise strengthens muscles and increases joint flexibility. Physical therapists would be able to assist in recommending the best exercises to do to improve the effects of the condition.