Juvenile arthritis - Impairs the life of children

We all are familiar that arthritis if one of the most common diseases that occur in older people, but arthritis is not just a disease of old people. People of all age can have arthritis. Juvenile arthritis is a term that is used when children get arthritis. The term arthritis is a disease which means an inflammation of joints and an inflammation of joint causes pain, stiffness, and swelling at affected joints. Swelling, stiffness and pain that doesn’t go away are the most common symptom of juvenile arthritis. Other symptom may include:

  • Difficulty walking in the morning
  • Excessive clumsiness
  • High fever
  • Rash
  • Swelling in the lymph nodes in the neck

Juvenile arthritis has a significant impact on the quality of life of children. Persistent or recurrent pain affects the children adversely and it is accompanied by restriction to do physical activity. Many children with juvenile arthritis experience the limited use of fingers and have problems with holding things. Multiple studies suggest that long period of arthritis can impair muscle development that leads to growth retardation, joint erosion, and uneven limb lengths. Arthritis affects every child differently and the symptoms that occur in children may also vary from one person to another.

Types of juvenile arthritis

Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis, previously termed as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is the most common type of juvenile arthritis and it is defined as arthritis which begins before age 16 years and is present for at least six weeks. When the origin or the main cause of juvenile arthritis is not known it is known as juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Juvenile idiopathic arthritis is a condition which is an autoimmune disorder. In an autoimmune disorder, the immune system in the body fails to function normally and attacks the healthy cells in the body. In juvenile idiopathic arthritis, the immune system attacks the healthy tissues that cause inflammation in joints and other parts of the body.

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis is a chronic disorder and the diagnosis of this disease is very important. Some of the possible complications include variable joint destruction, cervical spine, chronic eye disease, and inhibition of growth with shorter height. Some of the non-joint symptoms that occur in children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis include fever, fatigue, poor sleep, swollen lymph nodes, decreased hunger, and weight loss. Juvenile idiopathic arthritis is further categorized in various types:

1.Oligoarthritis - It is the most common type of juvenile idiopathic arthritis and it is defined as a condition which involves four or fewer joints in the first six months of the disease. Numerous researchers suggest that usually oligoarthritis begins before the age of six and girls are more likely to be affected by this disease as compared to the boys.  Although oligoarthritis involves four joints at most, in some children more joints can be involved and that condition is known as extended oligoarthritis. The symptoms of oligoarthritis include difficulty walking, pain and swelling in joints, and an inflammation in the eye.

2.Polyarthritis - It is a condition which is defined as an inflammation of more than four joints. When an individual suffers from polyarthritis, he or she experiences pain from multiple joints and the pain can originate from the joints, from the adjacent structures such as bones and tendons and from the metabolic factors such as depression and hypothyroidism. Polyarthritis is more common in girls as compared to the boys and it can occur anytime in childhood. Most often, small joints of the finger and hands are affected but it can also affect the joints of the knee, hip, and ankles.

3. Systemic arthritis - It is defined as a chronic type of arthritis, characterized by fever, skin rash, anemia, inflammation of the lining of the heart and lungs. And an enlargement of the liver. Usually, an inflammation of joints begins at the same time as the fever and rash but it starts weeks or months later. Systemic arthritis is different from other types of juvenile idiopathic arthritis and this is because systemic arthritis has other systemic symptoms in addition to the symptoms that are associated with arthritis. It throws a major impact on the children and is associated with various long term complications.

Also Read: Is Diabetes common in children?

4. Enthesitis related arthritis - Enthesitis is a term which is defined as an inflammation of entheses, which is the connective tissue where tendons and ligaments attach to the bones. Enthesitis related arthritis is a condition in which an inflammation or swelling not only occurs in joints but also in enthesitis. It is one of the most poorly understood types of juvenile idiopathic arthritis. It is associated with human leukocyte antigen and share some similarities with spondyloarthropathy. The severity of enthesitis related arthritis vary from one person to another as for one person, the symptoms of this disease can be mild and for short time, whereas for the other person the symptom can be serious and long lasting.

5. Juvenile psoriatic arthritis - It is a type of juvenile idiopathic arthritis in which joint inflammation occurs along with the disease known as psoriasis. Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin disease. The symptoms of psoriasis can occur years before or after the occurrence of arthritis. Joint symptoms that occur in juvenile psoriatic arthritis such as pain and swelling in one or more joints and some of the common joints include wrist, knees, ankle, fingers, and toes. Some non-joint symptoms of juvenile psoriatic arthritis include scaling red rash that usually occurs on the eyelids, elbows, knees, and behind the ears.

Undifferentiated Arthritis

Undifferentiated Arthritis is a type of juvenile arthritis which do not completely meet the criteria for juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Any arthritis that is unknown and the symptoms of arthritis continues to remain with an individual for more than six weeks and does not meet the criteria for any type of juvenile idiopathic arthritis.

Arthritis is one of the most common problems that is affecting a large number of people. According to the studies, every year a large number of children suffer from arthritis. It is important to diagnose this condition as early as possible as juvenile arthritis is associated with an adverse impact on the quality of life.

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