Juvenile arthritis: Although cause unknown, many treatment options available
Courtesy of Aspirus
WISCONSIN – July is Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month.
The American College of Rheumatology says about one child in every 1,000 develops some type of chronic arthritis. These disorders can affect children at any age, although rarely in the first six months of life. It is estimated that around 300,000 children in the United States have been diagnosed with the condition.
Juvenile arthritis (JA) is not a disease in itself. Also known as pediatric rheumatic disease, JA is an umbrella term used to describe the many autoimmune and inflammatory conditions or pediatric rheumatic diseases that can develop in children under the age of 16 according to the Arthritis Foundation.
“Although the various types of juvenile arthritis share many common symptoms, such as pain, joint swelling, redness and warmth, each type of JA is distinct and has its own special concerns and symptoms,” said Aspirus Pediatrician Dr. Jason Chan. “Juvenile arthritis can also involve the eyes, skin, muscles and gastrointestinal tract.”
No one knows exactly what causes juvenile arthritis. Researchers believe some children have genes that make them more likely to get the disease.
“Research is ongoing to figure out what exactly triggers JA in children,” said Dr. Chan. “These children are often referred to pediatric rheumatology specialists to help with diagnosis and management.”
There are many treatment options for JA. The primary goal of all treatment options is to induce remission of the arthritis. Treatment also focuses on preserving children’s quality of life by making it possible for them to participate in play, sports, school, and social activities.
With proper attention, most children with JA progress normally through their school years.