Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease that attacks the joints in the body, causing inflammation and pain. It can affect anyone at any age. Children are no exception to rheumatoid arthritis. In children, this chronic disease is called as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, and it also causes inflamed and stiff joints.
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis mostly affects children below the age of 16. Unlike the rheumatoid arthritis of adults, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is a group of several diseases. The only common characteristic of the adult and child rheumatoid arthritis is the “inflammation of joints and pain”.
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is a collective disease. The three identified forms are pauciarticular, polyarticular and systemic. In pouciarticular juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, a child may suffer from inflammation in few joints such as the knee and shoulder. If it is polyarticular, then many joints get inflamed simultaneously, for example knees, wrists, elbows, and so on. Polyarticular rheumatoid arthritis attacks symmetrically; for example, the joints of the left and right hand become inflammation at the same time.
Unlike pauciarticular and polyarticular, in systemic cases, parts of the body become affected along with the inflammation of some organs. Skin rashes, fever, inflammation of the joints and internal organs such as the spleen and liver may accompany systemic disease.
The cause of the disease is unknown, even in the case of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. The child complaining of joint pain is often examined to confirm for rheumatoid arthritis. The symptoms include difficulty to get up after sitting down, pain in the mornings while waking up-everything that is caused by the stiffness and swelling of the joints. They are also asked for a family history of rheumatoid arthritis. Once the disease is suspected, preliminary tests are conducted to understand the intensity of the disease. On the basis of the test results, the child is given treatment and medication. While some have an easy recovery, others suffer from more complicated symptoms. Sometimes, in some children, the symptoms of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis remain dormant for a period of time. It may suddenly emerge or “flare up” when the child least expects it.