When someone mentions arthritis, we may imagine an older person or relative rubbing their hands, arms, feet or legs, trying to find some relief from the constant swelling, redness, and pain. Unfortunately, this disease is not limited to just older adults.
Nearly 300,000 children under the age of 16 suffer from juvenile arthritis (JA), also known as pediatric rheumatic disease. Juvenile arthritis is not a disease unto itself, but a broader term to describe multiple inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.
It is an unexpected disease and a difficult one to explain to many children who suffer from it. With July being Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month, this is the perfect opportunity to get educated on the topic, in case your child or any child you know suffers from mysterious symptoms of joint swelling and pain.
7 Types of Juvenile Arthritis
There are several conditions that fall under the umbrella of JA. Knowing the different physical symptoms of each can help parents and healthcare professionals realize something is wrong, make the proper diagnosis, and begin finding ways to help. The seven types of JA include:
- Fibromyalgia: More common in girls than boys, it causes chronic pain to the point that fatigue and disrupted sleep are frequent. Extended periods of muscle stiffness or undefined aches can be indicators.
- Mixed connective tissue disease: Stems from extremely high levels of the antibody anti-RNP. The disease is often accompanied by others including lupus, arthritis, dermatomyositis (a combination of muscle inflammation and weakness), and scleroderma (tightening and hardening of the skin and tissues).
- Kawasaki disease: Inflamed blood vessels are the result, but the cause remains unknown. It involves the skin, mouth, and lymph nodes, and mainly strikes children under the age of 5. Untreated, it can cause heart problems later, but remarkably if caught early, children can overcome it within days.
- Juvenile scleroderma: As mentioned above in mixed connective tissue disease, scleroderma has a painful effect on the skin. The localized version of it damages skin, muscles, bones, and joints. The systemic version is much more severe and can cause internal organ damage. It is more common in girls but still very rare.
- Juvenile lupus: The autoimmune disease damages the skin, kidneys, blood, and joints.
- Juvenile dermatomyositis: One of the easiest conditions to spot, it leaves a rash on children’s eyelids and knuckles. It causes muscle weakness as well.
- Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA): The most common of the seven types of JA, it is an inflammation of the joints. It can first appear as something as simple as a high fever, a rash, or a swollen joint. Children between six months and 16 years are candidates to be diagnosed with it.
Does My Child Have JA?
Juvenile arthritis can be diagnosed through a physical examination and tests done by a physician who specializes in arthritis and related conditions in children—a pediatric rheumatologist. If you suspect your child might be suffering from a form of JA, it is important to set up an appointment. A pediatric rheumatologist will be able to give more insight into the possible diagnosis as well as treatment plans. In the case of any emergencies, Kyle ER & Hospital is open 24/7 with concierge-level care for all ages.
Nutex Health, Inc. supports you and your family’s health. Visit Kyle ER & Hospital or any one of our concierge-level freestanding facilities for the emergency care you deserve, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.