If your child complains about severe pain for upwards of 6 weeks, he or she may have juvenile arthritis (JA), a long-lasting, chronic autoimmune disease.
Juvenile arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes the body’s immune system to attack its own cells and tissues. In the United States, nearly 300,000 children under the age of 18 years are affected. There is no exact known cause for JA.
Ongoing joint inflammation causes arthritis in four steps:
- The joints become inflamed
- The joints stiffen and lock
- The joints suffer damage
- The joints’ growth is changed
Symptoms of Juvenile Arthritis
Common symptoms across all forms of JA include:
- Painful and swollen joints, especially early in the morning, which may result in a temporary limp.
- Joints may be warm to the touch because of joint and possible internal organ inflammation.
- Muscles and soft tissue weakness around the affected joints.
- Growth problems may be a result of JA, causing joints to grow too fast or slow or unevenly.
- High fevers, rashes, and eye problems are all additional symptoms that a child with juvenile arthritis may experience.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Early diagnosis and treatment can control painful symptoms and prevent joint damage. A complete medical history, physical examination, and additional testing will be necessary for your doctor to diagnose your child.
A child suffering from JA has many treatment options, both surgical and non-surgical:
Non-Surgical Treatment Options
Ultimately, the goal of all treatment options is to send a patient with juvenile arthritis into remission. Many non-surgical treatment options can work towards this goal.
- Medications: this is the most important part of any treatment plan for a child with JA. Options include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, biological agents, corticosteroids, and other types of medicines. Your doctor may prescribe a combination of these medications to find what is most effective for your child.
- Physical Therapy: exercising can help maintain muscle groups and prevent deterioration. Your child can work with a physical therapist to recover joint range of motion and improve functionality.
- Splints: this is useful any time of day to reduce inflammation. Splints are usually made of plastic or other materials and act as a brace to the affected area.
Surgical Treatment Options
While not often needed, severe forms of juvenile arthritis may require surgery to improve their condition in the instance of joint deformity. However, joint replacement surgery is often an option for adult arthritis and is not used to treat children.
At Orthopaedic Specialty Group, we offer a wide variety of treatments to help our patients deal with conditions such as chronic back pain, strained ligaments, chronic pain, bone spurs, and more. Contact us today to schedule your appointment (203) 337-2600!