Arthritis describes a chronic inflammation of the joints of the body. Not just a disease afflicting the elderly, children can develop arthritis as well! Juvenile arthritis (JA) refers to any arthritis-related condition that develops in children or teenagers less than 18 years of age. According to the Arthritis Foundation, approximately 294,000 children are affected by some form of JA in the United States today. Localized pain and limited range of motion and flexibility in the joints are indications of JA progression. As a parent, if you notice a change in gait, the favoring of a limb over time, or persistent back or joint pain, a physician’s consultation will help determine a proper diagnosis and treatment for your child.
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) is an arthritic condition in children (usually before the age of 16) that is characterized by long-standing joint pain, stiffness, redness, and swelling. JRA is considered to be an autoimmune disorder in which the child’s immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys healthy joint tissue. Body-wide symptoms can also be present, including high fever, rash of the trunk and extremities, and swollen lymph glands.
Treatment of JA should be conservative. When a few joints are involved, rest, gentle movement, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory supplements may be sufficient to control low-level pain and discomfort. Children who suffer with body-wide (rheumatologic) arthritis may require further medication such as disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs to decrease inflammation in the body. Natural supplements such as Omega-3 fatty acids, Glucosamine, and Chondroitin may also help to lower overall inflammation levels and to improve joint function.