When you think about arthritis, children don’t typically come to mind. However, juvenile arthritis, which is found in children up to age 18, affects 300,000 children in the United States alone.
Juvenile arthritis is an umbrella term that describes many of the conditions and diseases that can develop in children. Although there are many types of juvenile arthritis, they all share many common symptoms.
These are the most common signs of juvenile arthritis:
- Joint pain. It’s relatively common for kids to feel pain after a long day of activity, but if the pain is persistent and over-the-counter pain medication doesn’t help, this is a sign is developing juvenile arthritis.
- Stiffness. If your child has stiffness in their joints, especially in the morning, this is another warning sign.
- Swelling. Redness or swelling on the skin around painful joints is another common symptom of juvenile arthritis. The joint will feel hot to them and you can feel that it is warm to the touch.
If your child is experiencing these symptoms, see the pediatrician immediately.
Many parents misinterpret the symptoms of juvenile arthritis when it first appears in children, thinking it is a flu or allergic reaction. The symptoms can even recede before popping up again, which can delay diagnosis.
A child’s immune system is not fully formed until age 18, so an autoimmune form of arthritis is particularly aggressive in children and can compromise their ability to fight normal diseases.
This is why detection and treatment is so important. The ANRF (Arthritis National Research Foundation) is awarding a $100,000 yearly grant focused solely on juvenile arthritis treatments and cures. Continued research will make treatment easier, especially in cases where the disease is not detected early on and complications arise.