The month of July is dedicated to juvenile arthritis awareness. Although several types of arthritis can affect children and teens, the most common form is juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). Typically, children diagnosed with JIA range from 2 to 5 years old, however, adolescents diagnosed with JIA can range anywhere from 18 months old to 16 years old.
There are multiple symptoms of juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Generally, JIA symptoms will be centered around the child’s joints rather than organs such as; the kidneys, lungs, intestines, and heart. The knees, ankles, elbows, wrists, and small joints in the hands are the most common joints to be affected. While the symptoms of JIA will vary among each child, there are some common symptoms that most children experience. These symptoms include:
It is important to understand that many factors go into diagnosing JIA and there is no lab that specifically diagnosis it. To come up with a JIA diagnosis, your child’s pediatrician will perform a careful physical examination and review your child’s symptoms and medical history. Often, your child will need to provide blood work and/or x-rays, ultrasounds, and MRIs. The best way to get an accurate diagnosis is by documenting your child’s symptoms and communicating them with their doctor.
Treatment for JIA revolves around controlling the inflammation of the joints. Your child’s pediatrician will suggest you work closely with a pediatric rheumatologist who will understand how to create a functioning treatment plan for your child. Some common treatments include:
Although JIA does not essentially “go away”, many children can go into what doctors call “remission”. Some children can go into permanent remission while others will need to continue treatment into adulthood. It is difficult to know which children will go into permanent remission and which will not however, with medical advances today the prognosis of JIA in children has improved, giving adolescents a level of comfort and clarity for their health.
If you have questions or concerns regarding your child’s health or if they are experiencing symptoms of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, know that we are here for you! Contact our office at 561-275-7100.