Juvenile Arthritis is a chronic disease that affects the entire family.
July is Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month, drawing attention to the chronic illness affecting nearly 300,000 children in America. This is often an autoimmune disorder in which the body's own defenses attack the muscles, joints, cartilage and other connective tissue. While the term arthritis is usually used to describe joint inflammation, juvenile arthritis can also affect the eyes, skin and gastrointestinal tract. Because it is a chronic illness, juvenile arthritis has a significant impact on the diagnosed child and their family. Here's what to expect:
The most common symptoms of the disease are swelling, pain and stiffness of the joints that doesn't go away. It usually affects the hands, feet and knees and is worse in the morning. Other symptoms include:
- Swelling in the lymph nodes
- High fever and skin rash
- Limping or difficulty moving in the morning
Your child's pediatrician will take into consideration the symptom and factor those in with family history and the results of x-rays and lab test.
There is no known cure for juvenile arthritis, only management. Your doctor may encourage you to keep your child active to maintain a good quality of life. Symptoms can be managed with anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving medication and exercise.
Learning to cope
Juvenile arthritis is a chronic disease, meaning that you, your child, and your family have to learn to live with it. Due to the pain, your child may feel irritable and frustrated. Additionally, the disease could put a strain on your child's social activities. To deal with the effect, you may want to consider joining a support group. The key is to treat your child normally and learn to live with the disease.
To learn more about juvenile arthritis, visit our online health library. In the event your child needs medical treatment, consider the Pediatric Emergency Care Center at Oak Hill Hospital, the area's only pediatric ER providing child-centered care with "ouch-less" techniques. For more information, contact our Consult-A-Nurse® service at 1-888-741-5120.