Did you know that kids can get Arthritis, and it’s not just an, “older people” thing. So what exactly is Juvenile Arthritis or JA for short? This is a disease where there is inflammation of the synovium in children aged 16 or younger. What is synovium? It is the tissue that lines the inside of joints. No exact cause is known for JA, but 300,000 kids have JA in the U.S. JA is often referred to as Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis in the United States. Other names and forms include:
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA): this is the most common type of Artitis and has six different subtypes: oligoarthritis, polyarthritis, systemic, enthesitis-related, juvenile psoriatic arthritis or undifferentiated.
Juvenile dermatomyositis: this is an inflammatory disease, causing muscle weakness and a skin rash on the eyelids and knuckles.
Juvenile Lupus: Lupus is an autoimmune disease. The most common form is systemic lupus erythematosus, or SLE. Lupus can affect the joints, skin, kidneys, blood and other areas of the body.
Juvenile scleroderma: Scleroderma means, “hard skin” which is exactly what happens when you have JS.
Kawasaki disease: blood-vessel inflammation that can lead to heart complications.
Mixed connective tissue disease: This disease might include features of arthritis, lupus dermatomyositis and scleroderma, and is associated with very high levels of a particular antinuclear antibody called anti-RNP.
Fibromyalgia: this is a chronic pain and is an arthritis related condition, which causes stiffness and aching, along with fatigue, disrupted sleep and other symptoms. This is more common in girls, fibromyalgia is seldom diagnosed before puberty.
Symptoms might recede before showing up again and include, swollen joints, fever, sudden rashes that some mistake for allergic reactions. No one expects their child or teen to have arthritis and most people don’t even know that kids can get arthritis. A child’s immune system is not fully formed until they are about 18 years old. An autoimmune form of Arthritis is especially aggressive in children. Unfortunately there is no cure for JA. With early diagnosis and aggressive treatment, remission is possible. Treatments can help relieve inflammation and control pain, but most importantly improve the child’s quality of life.