Types of Juvenile Arthritis, Their Causes, and Treatment Options
July is Juvenile Arthritis Awareness month. Many people don’t realize that juvenile arthritis is not actually a disease in itself. Instead, it describes the autoimmune and inflammatory conditions that can develop in children under the age of 17. Each type impacts people differently, but common symptoms include pain, redness, warmth, and joint swelling. Almost 300,000 children in the United States suffer from juvenile arthritis.
The different types of juvenile arthritis include:
- Juvenile dermatomyositis: causes muscle weakness and a skin rash on the eyelids and knuckles
- Juvenile scleroderma: a group of conditions that cause the skin to tighten and harden
- Juvenile lupus: an autoimmune disease that can impact the joints, skin, kidneys, blood, and more
- Mixed connective tissue disease: includes symptoms of arthritis, lupus, dermatomyositis, and
- Kawasaki disease: causes blood-vessel inflammation that can lead to heart complications
- Fibromyalgia: chronic pain syndrome that can cause stiffness, aching, fatigue, disrupted sleep, and more
- Juvenile idiopathic arthritis: the most common form of arthritis, it includes six subtypes
Some children have no symptoms whatsoever, but others do experience some signs. These include:
- Joint stiffness, especially when first waking up
- Persistent fever
- Pain, tenderness, and swelling in the joints
- Weight loss
- Redness or pain in the eye or blurred vision
While some research suggests that genetics could be a factor, no specific cause of juvenile arthritis has been determined. There is no cure for this condition, but early diagnosis and aggressive treatment can lead to remission. Relieving inflammation, controlling pain, and improving the child’s quality of life are the overall treatment goals. Oftentimes this involves medication, a healthy diet, physical activity, and eye care.
If your child is suffering from some form of juvenile arthritis, teaching him the importance of following the treatment instructions is the most important step. Be supportive and encourage him to address any emotional or social issues he may be dealing with as a result of the diagnosis, and his quality of life will continue to improve.