Juvenile idiopathic arthritis treatment

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What is juvenile idiopathic Arthritis?

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis is the most common type of arthritis found in children under the age of 16. It is an autoimmune disease caused by the body attacking itself. In juvenile idiopathic arthritis, the immune system attacks the synovium (joint linings), resulting in painful and swollen joints.

 

The term “idiopathic” means unknown as the causes of this disease are unknown. There are six different types of juvenile idiopathic arthritis. If left untreated, this disease can destroy cartilage and bones and cause harm to other parts of the body, including the eyes, lungs and heart. While there is no cure for the disease, it is possible to manage the symptoms and even achieve remission.

Symptoms and causes

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis causes painful and swollen joints that can appear red, especially in hands, wrists, elbows, knees and ankles. Many children experience stiffness when getting up in the morning or after staying in one position for an extended period of time. They may also develop a rash, experience loss of appetite, have a high fever or be fatigued.

 

Eye problems are common in juvenile idiopathic arthritis as well, including blurred vision and dry eyes. Children may experience one or more of the six different forms of juvenile idiopathic arthritis, such as polyarthritis which affects more than five joints or psoriatic arthritis. Most patients experience periods of flares and remission of varying length.

Researchers are not sure why certain children develop juvenile idiopathic arthritis. While there is no cure, it is possible to achieve remission with early, aggressive treatment. Treatment often includes prescription as well as over the counter drugs such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and analgesics such as acetaminophen. Low-impact exercise is recommended, such as walking, swimming or biking.

 

A diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains may be beneficial; the “Mediterranean” diet is recommended as anti-inflammatory. Children should get enough rest. Procedures such as massage and acupuncture are also known to help alleviate symptoms. Some children may benefit from surgery if their condition is severe.

Treating juvenile idiopathic Arthritis

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FAQs about disease

Does juvenile arthritis go away?


Pain, swelling, and morning stiffness are predominant symptoms of juvenile arthritis. There are various types of Juvenile arthritis that are diagnosed by a doctor after a thorough physical examination, x-rays and blood testing. Treatment initially starts with medications and this may change depending on how the child responds to treatment. Symptoms could get worse or go into remission, but the pattern is unpredictable. Some children may outgrow the condition, or it can spread and affect other joints. Most children with systemic arthritis may find it goes away after a few years with a smaller percentage suffering from continued arthritis that can be destructive.




How do you test for juvenile arthritis?


Symptoms of inflammation usually start before the child reaches 16 years and will typically last for more than 6 weeks. Juvenile arthritis can affect one or multiple joints, and even the eyes with associated fevers or rashes. There is no single test to diagnose juvenile arthritis. Symptoms and a physical exam will initially be carried out. The doctor may require further testing by analyzing blood samples and other imaging studies. X-rays can pick up cartilage damage, but an MRI would be effective in early detection. Several conditions will need to be ruled out before making a juvenile arthritis diagnosis.




What causes juvenile rheumatoid arthritis?


The direct cause of juvenile arthritis (JA) is not known and because it is an autoimmune or autoinflammatory disease, it can be a mix of genetics, environmental factors and the child’s immune system. Some medical researchers believe that specific genes can trigger JA when activated by a virus or other external factors. But there is also no evidence to suggest that allergies, foods, toxins, or vitamin deficiency can cause the onset of the disease. JA is a pediatric rheumatic disease, which groups inflammatory and rheumatic diseases in children under the age of 16 years.




Is juvenile arthritis a disability?


Juvenile arthritis (JA) can be classified as a disability but not every child with JA is disabled. It largely depends on the child. A child is disabled when they have any physical or mental dysfunction that limits major life activities. Some children are disabled as a result of JA where physical symptoms require mobility aids or where children suffer from severe pain and inflammation in multiple organs. JA fluctuates with symptoms disappearing and resurfacing sporadically or over a long period. Sometimes the child can be temporarily disabled when flares occur. While children with JA were handicapped in the past, modern medicine offers improved outcomes.




Is juvenile arthritis hereditary?


The onset of Juvenile Arthritis (JA) is when the body's immune system attacks its healthy tissue. While some research indicates that children have certain genetic tendencies that trigger arthritic diseases, there is no substantial proof that this is fact. Studies continue to investigate the correlation between autoimmune ailments and hereditary factors to determine if there’s a genetic component for autoimmune disorders in the same family. Generally, JA is considered a result of varying genetic and environmental factors but that a specific and direct cause is unknown. The reason behind excessive joint inflammation by the body’s immune system is not clear.





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