When to call a doctor for Juvenile Arthritis

Updated at: Jan 18, 2013
When to call a doctor for Juvenile Arthritis

Parents and caregivers often tend to overlook symptoms of arthritis in children as it is considered as problem of the elderly.

Dr Poonam Sachdev
Other DiseasesWritten by: Dr Poonam SachdevPublished at: Jan 18, 2013

Parents and caregivers often tend to overlook symptoms of arthritis in children as it is considered as problem of the elderly. They fail to appreciate that arthritis can occur in children---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 develops severe arthritis.Consult your doctor if your child has joint pain, swelling or stiffness for more than a few weeks. Read to know more on when to call a doctor for juvenile arthritis.

Consult a doctor immediately for arthritis if:

  • your child all of a sudden develops unexplained swelling, redness, and pain in any joint or joints.
  • your child seems unusually cranky or reluctant to crawl or walk.
  • a child with any type of juvenile arthritis develops red eyes, eye pain, and vision blurring or vision loss.

Seek medical advice for if any of the following symptoms continue for more than 2 days:

  • Your child has unexplained daily high grade fever (103°F to 106°F) with or without a pink skin rash.
  • Your child is cranky or reluctant to crawl or walk in the morning (after getting up from bed) but improves after 1 to 2 hours.
  • Your child who is on aspirin or another nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) develops stomach pain probably due to the medication (symptoms such as heartburn, nausea, or refusal to eat).
  • Your child develops joint pain and skin rash after a sore throat.

Watchful Waiting if you suspect joint problem:
It can be difficult to be sure if an infant has joint pain due to arthritis or injury. You can wait for a few days before consulting a doctor the infant or young child is otherwise healthy and playful but:

  • seems cranky or refuses to walk, or reverts to crawling after he has started walking
  • yoususpect gait problems or joint stiffness in the morning (but the problem is not significant).

You may try home treatment such as hot or cold packs, rest, and pain relieving medication such as acetaminophen for a few days for mild joint pain. But in case there is no improvement in 1 to 2 weeks or if the symptoms worsen consult your doctor.

Who to consult: The initial evaluation of joint pain and other symptoms suggestive of any type of juvenile arthritis can be done by:

  • Family physician
  • Pediatrician.
  • Nurse practitioner (NP).
  • Physician assistant (PA).

If your health professional suspects juvenile arthritis you may be referred to a rheumatologist who specializes in children's rheumatic disease (pediatric rheumatologist).

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis is usually managed by a team of specialist which includes:

  • A pediatric orthopedist (that is an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in children's orthopedic problems)
  • Nurses.
  • Physical and occupational therapists.
  • Others such as psychologist, general dentist and an orthodontist, dietitian or nutritionist, as needed.
  • An ophthalmologist.




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