Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints which causes pain and swelling. It can be for short term i.e. for weeks or months and it can last for years. About 300,000 children are suffering from arthritis in America.
The most common form of juvenile arthritis is JRA (Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis) which is found mainly in children. JRA is affecting about 50,000 children in U.S. The features of JRA are – Joint damage, Joint contracture, Joint inflammation and alteration or change in growth.
Causes of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis
There is no cause of JRA in children. According to research, JRA is an autoimmune disease. In this disease, white blood cells are unable to differentiate between the healthy cells of the body and the harmful invaders such as viruses and bacteria which harm the body. Instead of protecting the body from the harmful invaders immune system releases chemicals which damage tissues and inflammation and pain are caused. So, the exact cause of JRA is not known.
Types of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis occurs between 6 months and 16 years of age in children. They are of three types:
- Pauciarticular JRA – Girls of age 8 are likely to develop this disease. They usually have monoarticular arthritis. This affects four or larger joints which consist of ankle, wrist, fingers and knee. Eye inflammation can also be caused by this type of JRA.
- Polyarticular JRA – About 30 percent of children are affected by polyarticular JRA. This affects five or smaller joints such as hands and feet and even large joints. This type is occurred with children when there is some antibody in the blood called IgM rheumatoid factor.
- Systemic JRA – About 20 percent of children are affecting with this disease which causes pain, swelling, rash and inflammation of liver, heart and spleen.
Symptoms of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Joints swell and remain enlarged
- Limping or a sore finger, knee and wrist
- Stiffness in the hips, neck or in other joints
- Appearance of rashes
- Appearance of high fever and suddenly disappear
Diagnosis of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis
Diagnosis depends on the child’s medical history and a thorough physical examination.
The doctors perform the various tests for diagnosing the JRA and they are:
- Complete blood count
- Blood culture
- Erythrocyte sedimentation rate
- Bone marrow examination
Treatment of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis
There are various treatments available for treating JRA which relieves pain and inflammation, restore the use and functions of the joints.
- Physical Therapy – This program is essential for the children as it explains the importance of various activities such as motion exercises so that flexibility in sore joints and stiff can be restored and strength and endurance can be build.
- Medications – The doctors prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen to minimize inflammation and pain. Higher and lower dosage can be taken which depends on the child’s response to the medication.
- Regular Exercise – Various exercises can be done to keep the muscles strong and healthy and maintains the range of motion of joints. These exercises also include walking, swimming and bicycling.
So, JRA should be treated well by taking appropriate treatments as it can produce serious complications in severe cases if not treated.