Childhood Arthritis can cause permanent damage to the joints and it can be very painful for a child to do normal day to day activities such as walking or going to school. However, most children with arthritis can expect to live normal lives.
What causes childhood arthritis?
The exact cause of childhood arthritis is unknown. Typically, there is a malfunction of the immune system where it may not work properly. This can cause inflammation in the joints and different systems of the body.
What are some of the signs and symptoms to look out for childhood arthritis?
Signs and symptoms include:
- Limping, joint pain
- Stiffness when waking up
- Reluctance to use an arm or leg
- Reduced level of activity than normal
- Joint swelling
- Persistent fever
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Loss of appetite
- Inflammation of the eye
- Difficulty with daily living activities such as walking, dressing, and playing
Is there a cure for childhood arthritis?
Although there is no cure, some children with arthritis achieve permanent remission after undergoing treatment, which means the disease is no longer active in the body.
How is childhood arthritis diagnosed?
Childhood arthritis is diagnosed through a physical examination, imaging such as x-rays or MRI, and lab tests. A doctor who specializes in arthritis should make this decision.
What are some of the treatments for childhood arthritis?
Treatment can be addressed with the use of therapies, medications, and in rare cases surgery. It is important that children are started in physical therapy and occupational therapy to help stretch and strengthen their muscles. By doing therapy they are able to keep their current level of functioning. In cases where medications are needed, they help by decreasing pain, improve everyday function and minimize potential joint damage. These medications should be discussed with a pediatric rheumatologist or rheumatologist.