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What Makes Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis Different?

ArthritisMany people have heard of rheumatoid arthritis, but not everyone knows how it differs from juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. This type of arthritis, which is sometimes called juvenile idiopathic arthritis, is so named because it’s very common in teens and kids who are 17 years old or younger. It, like all types of arthritis, causes stiffness and swelling in the joints. Some children actually develop juvenile rheumatoid arthritis when they’re only a few months old and will deal with it for the rest of their lives, while others may only deal with the pain for a short amount of time. Either way, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis can lead to a number of serious issues, including eye inflammation and growth issues. There is no cure, but treatment can help control the pain and improve motion.

Causes

Like rheumatoid arthritis, the juvenile version is caused when the immune system actually attacks the body’s own tissues and cells for some unknown reason. The environment and genetics do seem to have some role in whether or not a person comes down with this type of arthritis. Another issue may be gene mutations, plus some viruses or other factors could also trigger juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. The bottom line is that no one is sure of the cause. While juvenile rheumatoid arthritis can affect anyone under 17, it has been shows that some forms of the disease affect girls more often than boys.

Symptoms

The symptoms of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis are much the same as other types of arthritis:

• Pain in the joints, especially after sleeping or getting up after sitting for a long period.
• Swelling in joints, including the knees and knuckles.
• Stiffness or difficulty walking after getting up or in the morning.

Sometimes, only one joint will be affected, while other times, this type of arthritis can affect several joints at once. It can even affect the child’s entire body and cause rash, fever, or swelling of the lymph nodes.

If your child continues to suffer from swelling, stiffness, or pain in the joints, especially if the symptoms last for more than a week or they have a fever, take them to see a doctor immediately.

Treatment

Since there is no cure, the only want to deal with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is to treat the symptoms. For many, this means taking over-the-counter pain medication such as NSAIDs. Others may take a type of disease-modifying drug like methotrexate, while others might respond better to a new type of drug called a biologic agent. Physical therapy may also help.

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These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to treat, diagnose, or cure any diseases.