Juvenile idiopathic arthritis is a childhood condition that results to swollen, inflamed joints. This causes the joints to become painful and rigid. Some children can outgrow the condition after treatment while others require ongoing treatment as adults.
What are the types of juvenile idiopathic arthritis?
- Oligoarticular – the most common form and often the mildest type. In such cases, 1-4 joints are involved in the initial 6 months of the condition.
- Polyarticular – this involves 5 or more joints in the initial 6 months of the symptoms and tends to worsen over time. The condition can be severe and appears the same as rheumatoid arthritis in adults.
- Systemic – this is the most serious type and results to pain in several joints and even spread to the organs.
- Enthesitis-related – this most often affects areas in which the tendons and ligaments attach to the bones. In some cases, the joints might also be affected.
- Psoriatic – this is a combination of joint tenderness and inflammation along with psoriasis of the skin or issues with the nails.
What are the causes?
Many doctors could not pinpoint the exact cause of the disease. Remember that there are various factors that can lead to it such as:
- An overly active immune system that attacks the joint tissues
- Viruses or other infections that triggers the immune system to attack the joint tissues
- Possessing certain genes that initiates the immune system to attack the joint tissues
Children might have one or several symptoms such as:
- Joint pain and swelling
- Stiffness of the joint
- Difficulty sleeping
- Difficulty walking
In some instances, these symptoms are mild and difficult to spot. Young children can become more cranky than usual. A child might go back to crawling after he/she has started walking. The joints might feel rigid in the morning or have difficulty walking.
Children might also develop an inflammatory eye disease that can result to lasting vision issues or even blindness if not treated.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are given to reduce the pain and inflammation
- Exercise and physiotherapy can keep the muscles of the child strong and flexible
- Occupational therapy will help the child live independently as possible
- Surgery to fix any joint issues is done in rare cases