If you thought that arthritis was something that happened only to old people, you were probably shocked to discover that kids can get arthritis, too. Sadly, they can. Arthritis is not just for old people.
The type of arthritis that older people typically get is the most common form of arthritis; it is called osteoarthritis. There are many other arthritic diseases. Children don’t usually have their joints wear out like old people and athletes. When children get arthritis, either the arthritis is due to a known disease, or it is due to an immune system malfunction.
Rare reaction to an infection, or diseases such as myositis, Kawasaki disease, scleroderma, and lupus can cause inflammation and joint pain. In this case, the cause of the arthritis is known.
Other times the cause is unknown. The medical term is idiopathic. That’s what we see in Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis. For some unknown reason, the immune system attacks the joints (and organs) instead of defending against disease. When the immune system attacks self, the disease is an autoimmune disease.
Juvenile Arthritis is treated by a pediatric rheumatologist. In the case of JIA, the rheumatologist will often refer kids to a physical therapist and/or an occupational therapist to learn stretches and exercises that will reduce pain and protect their joints. If eye involvement is a concern, referral will also be made to an ophthalmologist.
Early, aggressive treatment is needed. Kids should not have aching joints. If they do, carefully document symptoms and get your primary physician to help you get an accurate diagnosis and treatment.
Used by permission