The term Juvenile arthritis (JA) describes the different autoimmune and inflammatory arthritis in children (less than 16 years of age). Arthritis affects joints and the term “arthritis” literally means joint inflammation.
The term Juvenile arthritis (JA) describes the different autoimmune and inflammatory arthritis in children (less than 16 years of age). Arthritis affects joints and the term “arthritis” literally means joint inflammation. Besides joints some type of JA can affect the eyes, skin and gastrointestinal tract as well.
Arthritis develops in approximately one child in every 1,000 in a given year (but most of them are mild) and about one child in every 10,000 will developsevere arthritis.
There are several different types of arthritis that can affect children.Many children develop acute inflammatory arthritis after a viral or bacterial infection. It may be quite severe for some time but the prognosis is good and it usually disappears within a few weeks or months. Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) or juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) is the commonest type of JAthat persists for months or years at a time.
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis causes symptoms such as persistent joint pain, swelling, stiffness and limitation of motion. Children with JIA can have remission and exacerbation of symptoms. The remission can last for months whereas some children can have persistent symptoms for the rest of their lives.
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is classified based on the following criteria;
- Number of joints affected
- Signs and symptoms
- Results of blood tests
Based on these criteria JIA is classified as;
- Oligoarthritis: About 40 percent of new JIA patients are diagnosed as oligoarthritis type of JIA. In these patients four or fewer joints are involved within the first six months.
- Polyarthritis: If five or more joints are involved during the first six months in a child with JIA it is known as polyarthritis.
- Systemic: About 10% of patients with JIA are diagnosed with systemic type of JIA. In this besides joint involvement the child has symptoms such as fever, rash and involvement of organs such as lungs, heart.
Many parents and caregivers tend to ignore symptoms of arthritis in children as they fail appreciate that arthritis can occur in children. Hence the childgoes on to experience the symptoms of arthritis for months or years before it is diagnosed and proper treatment is started. If yourchild has joint pain or any other problem related to the joints consult a doctor. Early and appropriate treatment can improve the condition and help the child to live and grow normally.
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