Arthritis is a condition that is usually associated with older people. However, there is a type of arthritis that affects many children around the world and that type of arthritis is commonly known as ‘Juvenile Arthritis’. So why exactly do children suffer from such a painful, restricting condition and how does it affect them in everyday life?
What is this type of arthritis?
This usually affects at least one joint in the body for roughly six weeks. It causes severe pain, some swelling and it is not currently known what brings it on. It is more formally known as ‘Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis’ and it can affect the child at basically any age.
The main problem that this condition causes in most families is frustration. Arthritis is supposed to affect only older people and so when a child is diagnosed with the condition, they are often confused and they do not know what to do. If anything the condition is worse for children than it is for adults as they cannot always express the pain that they are in and it can be confusing for them why they are in so much pain all of the time.
Many people do mistake Juvenile Arthritis with the term ‘Growing Pains’ and while some pain and discomfort is to be expected throughout childhood, the pain should never be severe enough for it to cause any problems. So, if your child is telling you that they are in a lot of pain, or if they look to be in a lot of pain with their joints when they are moving around, you should take them to see a physician right away.
Juvenile Arthritis varies in severity from child to child and so various tests will need to be carried out in order to determine how badly your child is suffering from it.
Diagnosing Juvenile Arthritis
If you do suspect that your child could have Juvenile Arthritis, it is important that you take them to your local physician in order to be sure. Once there, the physician will run a few tests just to determine what the problem actually is.
The main thing that the physician will look for is whether the pain could be caused by a systemic disease. It can often be hard to diagnose Juvenile Arthritis and so that is why so many tests are needed to be done. Changes in lifestyle will be looked at such as whether there has been a dramatic change in activity and also things such as whether the child has become ill with a fever will be looked at too.
A physical examination will be given on the affected areas and around those affected areas, just to have a better idea of how bad the problem is. As well as a physical test, tests such as Radiography and a blood count test may also be done. Generally the amount of testing that is involved can be distressing for the child but it does need to be done just to be sure that the problem is Arthritis and nothing else.
The symptoms of Juvenile Arthritis can differ, but mainly they include some illness such as fever. The child will go through periods where they feel fine and then they will suddenly come down with an illness again. So if your child is frequently becoming ill and if they are in pain, then it is likely that they are suffering with Juvenile Arthritis.
Treatments Available For Children with Juvenile Arthritis The treatments that are available for children with Juvenile Arthritis include:
o Occupational Therapy
It really depends upon the severity of the condition as to which treatments your child will be given. One thing that you should remember, however, is that often the pain relief which is available to adults with Arthritis is not usually appropriate for children. Therefore when it comes to pain relief, it can sometimes be a little difficult to help your child to deal with it.
The treatment that is given to children is aimed to help them to move their joints more freely and to reduce the amount of paint hat they do have. Occupational Therapy is used to help the child to live better with their condition. That includes showing how improvements and changes can be made in everyday living in order to help to reduce the risk of any severe pain. It also allows them to live as independently as possible.
Physiotherapy is the main treatment that helps to reduce the pain and help movement of the joints that are affected. Ice packs or heat packs are given and gentle exercises are also incorporated to ensure that the joints do not become too stiff. Stretches and Hydrotherapy are often used during Physiotherapy and many parents find that they really help their children to move a lot better and more freely.
Finally, drugs are often used to both reduce the inflammation of the joints and to reduce the amount of paint hat the child is in. However, as mentioned earlier, some drugs are not suitable for children and so it is always worth checking with a doctor what you can and cannot give your child to control the pain. Generally Ibuprofen is a good choice of pain relief, but again check with your doctor beforehand in order to see that it is suitable for your child.
Juvenile Arthritis can be really painful and restricting for a child and it is a condition which is not fully understood by parents throughout the world. There is treatment for it, but you first need to ensure that your child undergoes various tests by a physician, in order to diagnose the condition properly. Only then can you really start to use various treatments for your child and they should be given by a doctor.
If you have any experience with Juvenile Arthritis or if you know of somebody who has been through the condition then please feel free to leave a comment on the ‘comments’ section of the website.