What is Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Definition:

Also known as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, it is the most common type of arthritis in children under 17 years of age. This type of arthritis causes persistent pain in the joints, swelling and stiffness. Some children may experience symptoms for only a few months, while others may present them throughout their lives.

The symptoms

Pain . Although it is possible that the child does not complain of the pain, it can be noticed that generally when waking up, it hobbles a little.

Swelling . Joint swelling in joints, however, can be observed severe inflammations, especially in the knees.

Rigidity . The child may be stiff in the morning or waking from a nap, making it look clumsy and hit.

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis can affect one or several joints. In some cases it can also affect the whole body, causing inflammation of the lymph nodes, rashes and fever.

Causes

Idiopathic arthritis occurs when the body’s immune system attacks its cells and tissues. It is not known exactly why it happens, however, it is believed that the inheritance and the environment are the main culprits.

Certain mutations of genes favor that a person is more prone to environmental factors triggering the disease.

Tests and diagnosis

Blood test

Globular sedimentation rate . It is the speed at which red blood cells settle in the bottom of a tube of blood. A high rate of them, may indicate inflammation.

The measurement of ESR (to measure sedimentation rate of erythrocytes) . It can be used to help catalog the type of juvenile idiopathic arthritis and establish the degree of inflammation.

Anti-nuclear antibody . They are proteins normally produced by the immune system of people with autoimmune diseases, such as arthritis.

The rheumatoid factor . This antibody is frequently found in the blood of children with rheumatoid arthritis.

Treatments and drugs

Medicines

For some children, painkillers are the only medication they need. Other children may need the help of medications created to restrict the spread of the disease. Some medications used for juvenile idiopathic arthritis are:

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs . These medications, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) and naproxen (Aleve), reduce pain and swelling. Side effects include stomach upset and liver problems.

Immune suppressors . Since juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is caused by an overactive immune system, medications that suppress the immune system can help. This medicine increases the risk of infections and, in rare cases, can increase some types of cancer.

Corticosteroids . They can be administered orally or by direct injection in a joint. However, these drugs can hinder normal growth and increase the susceptibility to infection, so usually use the shortest possible time.

Lifestyle and home remedies

Parents can help children learn self-care methods that help reduce the effects of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. The techniques include:

Exercise regularly . Exercise is important because it creates muscle strength and flexibility in the joints. Swimming is an excellent option, since it puts the least stress on the joints.

The application of cold or heat . Stiffness affects many children with this type of arthritis, particularly in the morning. Although some children respond well to cold packs, although, most prefer a compress or bath.

Eat regularly . Some children with this type of arthritis may have little appetite. Others may gain a lot of weight due to medications or lack of physical activity. A healthy diet will help maintain an adequate body weight.