July is Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month.
Many times we, as adults, don’t pay much attention when our children complain that their “joints” hurt. We think they’ve played too hard, want extra attention or possibly just have the flu. There are times, however, when this complaint needs further evaluation by a Health Care Professional as the definitive diagnosis could be none of the above. In fact, your child could be one of the many children who have the chronic condition known as Juvenile Arthritis.
Juvenile arthritis is considered an autoimmune disorder and scientists have yet to determine the precise cause. One theory is that the “gene” is passed from parent to child whereby this “gene” may lay dormant for years and then awaken from something as simple as a virus.
Once the disorder is active, the child may exhibit some of the symptoms listed below:
- High fever and a slight skin rash
- Pain in the joints (knees, hands or feet), especially first thing in the morning or immediately following a nap
- Lymph nodes that are swollen without specific medical rationalization
One way to try and determine if your child has Juvenile Arthritis is to document the frequency of their joint pain/rashes/swollen lymph nodes and take this information, along with a family history, to a physician. Your pediatrician may refer you to a pediatric rheumatologist. Blood tests, x-rays and a complete medical history will help the physician to make a diagnosis.
Should your child be diagnosed with Juvenile Arthritis, there are things you can do to ensure they still enjoy all that childhood has to offer! Some of the treatments may include, but will vary from child to child and physician to physician:
- NSAIDs (non steroidal anti-inflammatory medication is used to reduce inflammation and relieve pain
- Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic medications if the NSAIDs do not provide relief
- Therapy – Exercise is an excellent way to keep the child’s muscle tone in check. It helpS preserve range of motion and functionality.
If at any time you have any questions, ask your physician, or walk in to ExpressDocs Urgent Care Center to speak with a qualified physician at your convenience.
Visit the Arthritis Foundation and the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases to read more about Juvenile Arthritis.
Picture from The Journal of the American Medical Association where you can read more about Juvenile Arthritis.