June is Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month and I wanted to bring some awareness to this chronic disease. While, this is not a type of cancer it is still affecting many communities and devastating families because it affects the children of the future worldwide.
So, in this post I am going to attempt to answer the following questions: (1.) What is it? (2.) Who does it affect? (3.) How is it caused? (4.) What are the signs and symptoms of the disease? (5.) How is it treated? and (6.) How can it be prevented? Now, let’s begin:
* My source is the Arthritis Foundation website (www.arthritis.org) which is a reliable source.
What is Juvenile Arthritis?
Juvenile Arthritis, also known as Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA), and it is the most common type of arthritis in children where the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s tissues, causing inflammation in joints and potentially other areas of the body.
Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) is the most common type of arthritis in children. The term idiopathic means “of unknown origin.” Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA) or JIA is not contagious.
Who Does Juvnelie Arthritis affect?
Nearly 300,000 children – from infants to teenagers – in the U.S. have some form of arthritis. Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) is the most common type of arthritis in children. The term idiopathic means “of unknown origin.” There are six JIA subtypes.
- Systemic JIA causes inflammation in one or more joints and is often accompanied by a high spiking fever (103°F or higher) that lasts at least 2 weeks and a skin rash. Other possible signs include inflammation of the heart or lungs or their outer linings; anemia; or enlarged lymph nodes, liver or spleen. About 10 percent of children with JIA will have the systemic form.
- Oligoarticular JIA causes arthritis in four or fewer joints, typically the large ones (knees, ankles, elbows). Children with oligoarthritis are more likely to get uveitis (chronic eye inflammation) than those with the other subtypes. Children with a positive test for antinuclear antibody (ANA) are at greatest risk of developing eye inflammation and will need to see an eye doctor frequently.
- Polyarticular JIA causes inflammation in five or more joints, often the small joints of the fingers and hands, but weight-bearing joints and the jaw can also be affected. Polyarthritis can be rheumatoid factor-positive or negative. Rheumatoid factor-positive polyarticular, JIA closely resembles adult rheumatoid arthritis and can be a more severe disease than the RF-negative variation. About 25 percent of children with JIA will have the polyarticular form.
- Juvenile psoriatic arthritis involves arthritis that usually occurs in combination with a skin disorder called psoriasis. The psoriasis may begin many years before any joint symptoms become apparent. Joint symptoms include pain and swelling in one or more joints, often the wrists, knees, ankles, fingers and toes. Symptoms of psoriasis include a scaling red rash commonly seen behind the ears; on the eyelids, elbows and knees; at the scalp line; or in the belly button.
- Enthesitis-related JIA is characterized by tenderness where the bone meets a tendon, ligament or other connective tissue. This tenderness, known as enthesitis, accompanies the joint inflammation of arthritis. It most often affects the hips, knees and feet. Enthesitis-related arthritis may also involve inflammation in parts of the body other than the joints. Often referred to as spondyloarthritis, enthesitis-related arthritis is more common in boys and usually begins between the ages of 8 and 15. Affected children will often test positive for the HLA-B27 gene.
- Undifferentiated arthritis is the term used to describe a juvenile arthritis that does not fit into any of the above types, or that involves symptoms spanning two or more subtypes.
What is the cause of Juvenile Arthritis?
Researchers are uncertain what causes JIA. There is no evidence that foods, toxins, allergies or lack of vitamins play a role in developing the disease. Current research indicates that there is a genetic predisposition to JIA.
More than a dozen genetic markers have been identified for JIA, and hundreds more are being considered. However, genetic markers alone can’t determine who will get arthritis. Researchers believe that a trigger, like a virus, can start the disease process in those children with the genetic tendency.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF Juvenile Arthritis?
These are some of the most common early signs and symptoms of arthritis in children. A child may not have all of these symptoms.
- Joints that are warm to the touch
- Swelling and tenderness at joints
- Favoring one limb over another or limping
- Pain (often worse following sleep or inactivity)
- Stiffness, especially upon waking in the morning
- Inability to bend or straighten joints completely
- Decreased physical activity
- Sleep problems
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Reduced appetite and/or weight loss
Not all children with JIA will have the same symptoms, and some symptoms are specific to a subtype of JIA. Symptoms can change from day to day or throughout a single day, so it’s important to talk to a child’s doctor to ensure that these symptoms mean that a child has JIA instead of an injury or a different illness.
If you have any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor.
How is Juvenile Arthritis Treated?
There is no cure for JIA but with prompt diagnosis and early aggressive treatment, remission is possible. The goal of treatment is to relieve inflammation, control pain and improve quality of life. With early aggressive treatment, however, remission is possible. The treatment plan may include medication, exercise, eye care, dental care and proper nutrition. Rarely, surgery may be necessary at later stages to help with pain or joint function.
Can Juvenile Arthritis be Prevented?
You can’t prevent systemic-onset juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. It’s believed to run in families, though, so family medical history can give you a clue. Getting regular medical checkups is important. Early detection and treatment can set the stage for a lifetime of better overall health.
For more information you can also visit www.arthritis.org.
*Source- Arthritis Foundation website (www.arthritis.org)
SUPPORT JUVENILE ARTHRITIS AND STAND UP TO CANCER TOO…
Please check out the shop page (JAccessories) to BUY a PURPLE AND BLUE HEALTH AWARENESS ACCESSORY to show your support for Juvenile Arthritis and to support cancer research too.
And this is how you can get in the fight to bring awareness to Juvenile Arthritis and stand up to cancer today by helping Life Is But Journey support cancer research…
- Buy a purple & blue health awareness accessory (paracord bracelet, cord bracelet, beaded, or charm bracelet) today.
- Half of the proceeds from the sale will be donated to the American Cancer Society in honor of my mother who pass away from colorectal cancer in June 2004.
Until next time remember that Life Is But A Journey….