Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month 2013

Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month 2013

More than 300,000. That’s the number of adolescents and children under the age of 16 affected by arthritis. It’s more than just minor aches and pains. This disease often flies under the radar and children who suffer without diagnosis can feel like outsiders, become victims of bullying or suffer from social hardships.

In an effort to raise awareness for children affected by Juvenile Arthritis (JA), July has been named Juvenile Arthritis Awareness month 2013.

JA is an autoimmune disease, meaning the body attacks it’s own healthy cells and tissues. The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) describes it as a two-step process that probably involves heredity passed down from a parent and then the introduction of a virus that sets off the disease.

Signs and Symptoms

Photo courtesy of the Arthritis Foundation, www.arthritis.org.

Photo courtesy of the Arthritis Foundation, www.arthritis.org.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, the disease not only affects the joints but it can also attack the eyes, skin and gastrointestinal tract.

Most common signs and symptoms to watch for in children:

  • Complaints of joint pain
  • Clumsiness
  • Stiff joints that can lead to limping
  • Pain in joints after sleeping or being immobile
  • Joint pain that lasts more than six weeks or seems almost constant
  • Fever
  • Skin Rash
  • Swelling in Lymph Nodes
  • Weight Loss
  • Fatigue
  • Eye pain

Diagnosis

It is difficult to diagnose Arthritis because it has no known cause and can strike anyone at any age. This often causes symptoms to be overlooked or misinterpreted.

Because there is no single blood test that confirms JA, it is recommended to visit a pediatric rheumatologist. With a complete health history, a pediatric rheumatologist can determine if JA is the cause of a child’s discomfort.

Additional ways to diagnosis JA:

  • Physical exam
  • Blood and lab tests
  • X-rays

Treatment

Because JA has no cure, treatment can be a difficult and emotional process. The best way to treat JA, according to the Arthritis Foundation, is to make sure your child has a high quality of life. Some treatment options include the following:

  • Medication taken to relieve inflammation and pain
  • Physical activity to help reduce swelling in joints
  • Healthy eating habits
  • Proper and consistent eye care

Summary

JA can be a challenging diagnosis and is often overlooked as normal joint pain. If your child is complaining about joint pain for more than six weeks, see a doctor. Your child may be suffering from JA.

Additional Information and Campaigns to Get Involved In:

Arthritis Foundation

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

WebMD

Juvenile Arthritis Association 

Juvenile Arthritis Association’s Information Center for JA

1 Comment
  1. I was very glad to hear that July was Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month! I’ll admit that I was not aware of this last year, but there are a lot of things that one can learn over the course of 365 days. In any case, I had helped put together this infographic for Arthritis Awareness Month back in May, but I figured it was worth sharing with you too. One of the main sections on this infographic covers the prevalence of juvenile arthritis in the United States. When I first started learning about these conditions, I was shocked by how many children were affected by various types of arthritis. Frankly, this is something that many Americans still don’t realize. Arthritis is not a disease for older people, it can affect someone at any age.

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