July 2015 is National Juvenile arthritis awareness month, and we thought that we’d give a bit more information about the condition, how it affects young people and how to spot its signs and symptoms.
Juvenile Arthritis isn’t a disease in itself, rather an umbrella term for many conditions that cause inflammation, pain and stiffness of the joints in a child under the age of 16. Juvenile arthritis is often referred to as Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) where the idiopathic means that the cause of the condition is unknown. What is known is that JIA is an autoimmune disease. This is where your immune system, the body’s defence against virus and harmful bacteria, attacks and causes inflammation in otherwise healthy tissues; and in JIA this occurs in the joints and creates the pain and stiffness.
It is estimated that around 12,000 children in the UK suffer with the condition. However, the things that you should look out for are:
- Painful, swollen or stiff joints
- Joints that are warm to the touch
- Increased tiredness
- A fever that keeps returning
- A limp with no injury
There are a number of treatments available once JIA has been diagnosed, including anti-inflammatories, steroids, painkillers and rheumatologic therapies. Osteopathy can help with some of the symptoms like joint stiffness and reduced joint motion.
If you or someone you know has been suffering these symptoms for longer than 6 weeks it is advisable to book an appointment with your GP to tell them about your symptoms and concerns. From there, they will consider referring you to a paediatric rheumatology consultant who will confirm the diagnosis with further testing.
To find out more about JIA visit the Arthritis Research UK website.