Rheumatoid Arthritis in Children
What is juvenile rheumatoid arthritis?
Despite the myth that arthritis affects only adults and mostly the elderly, the presence of rheumatoid arthritis in children is very real. Sadly, in most cases the parents and family are the ones confronted with this horrible truth first. When this happens, the only thing doctors are left to do is confirm the diagnosis of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis – otherwise also referred to as juvenile idiopathic arthritis – and determine ways to help the affected children develop normally.
It isn’t hard to understand why doctors are skeptical about arthritis in children. The condition is notorious for its undetectable progression and behavior even in adults. This makes it almost impossible to identify the symptoms of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, considering that children don’t possess the same ability to describe what troubles them as we adults do.
How to deal with childhood arthritis ?
As a parent, relative or guardian, it is vital to understand that juvenile idiopathic arthritis (or JIA) isn’t 100% curable at the moment, but giving it the right attention and treatment greatly improves the quality of your child’s life.
Each year, one in 1.000 children is affected by a mild form of childhood arthritis. At the same time, one in 10.000 children will have to face coping with a severe form of this affliction.
The idiopathic aspect of rheumatoid arthritis in children refers to the current lack of knowledge regarding the condition’s origins. However, similar to the adult forms of rheumatoid arthritis, most theories revolve around genetics. This is why it is up to you to make sure your child or teenager doesn’t grow up with a guilt complex. While it may be easier for teens to understand what troubles them isn’t a consequence of their actions, children may often blame medical issues on themselves. If such cases occur, it is recommended to seek advice from your child’s pediatrician.
Unfortunately, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis doesn’t mainly affect the child’s emotional development. In fact, most of the symptoms and discomforts are related to the condition’s physical manifestations. Symptoms of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis include joint pain – which in many cases can cause the child to avoid physical activities-, sudden fatigue, fever, joint stiffness, light skin rash, etc. The joints suffer inflammation and swell, creating a visible redness on the surrounding areas.
If you are the parent of an affected child, it is important to motivate him (or her) to go through the therapy sessions prescribed by the pediatrician or physician. Physical exercise is known to improve joint mobility, reduce swelling around the joints and – most importantly – restore the confidence of a child who has no hope of racing other kids or climbing trees. Besides, there are several types of medications available in drug stores and pharmacies that are produced to ease the pain of rheumatoid arthritis in children.
Hopefully this article has helped you better understand both the physical and psychological implications of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. No matter how hard it can feel at times to be the parent, tutor or relative of an affected child, you must always remember that it is much harder for the child. Thus it’s up to you to remain strong and supportive.
Don’t let childhood arthritis change the course of your child’s development! Should you at any time feel overwhelmed by the situation, don’t hesitate to seek help from a specialist or even from another family that is going through the same situation. Together you can make life more enjoyable for your child!
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