Arthritis in Children

All of us are very familiar with the term “Arthritis”. It is a very common ailment seen in adults especially in seniors. But modern studies have shown that there is an alarming increase in childhood arthritis. Cases of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA) in youngsters are being reported daily. Even though there are different types of arthritis that affects youngsters, JRA is the most common type.

More about Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

JRA affects children under 16 years. Children with arthritis experience stiffness and inflammation in their joints for over 6 weeks. Arthritis in knee leads to soreness, swelling, warmth and redness in the area but only a few children feel pain. This ailment can affect any type of joint limiting and the normal mobility.

This autoimmune disorder mistakes the body’s cells as foreign objects causing the immune system to fight these healthy cells and tissues. This leads to the inflammation and pain. Doctors have not been able to spot the exact cause of this disease but suggest that a person’s genetic makeup is the key factor. A child who carries arthritis inducing gene develops the ailment when exposed to its triggers.

Knee arthritis is the common type affecting children. The most common knee arthritis symptoms include:

total knee replacements
  • Stiffness
  • Limping
  • Joint pain
  • Redness
  • Frequent fevers
  • Swollen lymph nodes

JRA can affect one or multiple joints. There have been cases where it had affected the entire body.

Treatment

The usual treatment for JRA is a combination of physical therapies and medications.

Medical Treatment – Anti-inflammatory drugs are administered to give the child to get relieved from swelling and pain. If the pain is severe strong painkillers will be recommended. Consulting with a physician will help you to choose the best medication for your child. Biological agents are another option which helps to decrease joint damage and inflammation. But these have significant side-effects and are prescribed for a short period.

Lifestyle Changes – Following a healthy diet and performing suitable exercises are beneficial for knee arthritis treatment. Children who are on medications might experience an abrupt change in their appetite which can lead to a weight loss or a weight gain. In such cases, you need to speak with your doctor to design a suitable diet for your child.

Exercising at least 3 to 4 times a week will help to improve mobility and flexibility of the joints along with strengthening the muscles. But the workout should not burn out your child; children with arthritis should perform low-impact exercises such as walking or swimming. Always consult your doctor before putting your child on a new diet or exercise program.

Physical Therapy – Arthritis causes stiffness, and a physiotherapist can help the child in improving the flexibility of the joints, thereby reducing the pain and enhancing movement.

JRA is not a serious threat, in fact, a child with mild to moderate arthritis recover quickly without any complications, although there might be occasional flare-ups. Early detection is the best way to help your child recover better. In advanced stages, the condition can spread to other joints. Therefore always keep an eye for the symptoms, and if you feel something is wrong, you need to take your child to the doctor immediately.