Kids Arthritis? Does it mean the end of my Child's mobility?

The Occurrence of Kids Arthritis

With one in every one-thousand kids being affected by a form of kids arthritis or juvenile arthritis that makes for a large number. Fortunately, most of those cases are not severe. But every 1 in 10,000 will have a more severe case of arthritis that won't go away. Acute inflammatory arthritis is what many young children develop after a viral or bacterial infection. This type can be quite severe but will usually go away in a few weeks or months. The most common type of arthritis among kids is Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis which will persist for months or years at a time.

Most people and doctors will generally not recognize arthritis in kids but education is essential for the children affected and their families. Most of us think of arthritis as an old person's disease. Since we don't expect kids to get arthritis many will suffer for months or years before a diagnosis and proper treatment. Now if your child is diagnosed with arthritis don't resign them to a wheel chair. There are many things that can be done for your child.

Symptoms, signs and treatment for Kids Arthritis

There are three forms of arthritis that affect kids. They are classified on how they begin:

  • Pauciarticular - This means less than four joints affected
  • Polyarticular - Four or more joints affected
  • Systemic-onset - Inflamed joints accompanied with high fever and rash

Pauciarticular Arthritis will often show first as a swollen knee or ankle that appears without reason. It is most often painless. Someone may notice that your child's knee appears swollen or that they are walking "funny". A common place occurrence with arthritis is morning stiffness. Since our kids will usually get over this and on with their day we don't recognize it as a cause for concern. This is often times a very mild form of kids arthritis and can be treated with a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. More serious conditions may be an inflammation of the eye. This isn't a painful type of inflammation but can lead to scarring of the lens and possibly permanent visual damage. In its early stages only an ophthalmologist using a special instrument will be able to detect it. Children with juvenile arthritis should have their eyes checked every six months.

The other serious condition or outcome from kids arthritis is that it may cause the bones in the legs to grow at different rates. The end result is usually that one leg is longer than the other causing serious joint issues with the hip and knee. This damage will "wear out" the joints by the time a child reaches adulthood. This is easily recognized by swelling in the joint. Doctors will often try to stop the inflammation to prevent this problem. Should an actual discrepancy occur, then an orthopedist (a child bone specialist) will monitor the growth of the legs and stop the growth of the longer one to allow the other to catch up. This is considered to be a very simple operation.

Polyarticular Arthritis is more severe because it affects a greater number of joints and it usually gets worse over time. Those children that have this form will require active aggressive treatment.

Doctors will want to bring the inflammation under control as a first course of action. They will typically use a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug and possibly some very strong drugs. The necessity behind this is to reduce the symptoms and reduce any permanent damage. Steroids should be considered as a last course of action. While this will make everything feel "good" it really isn't. And taking steroids for too long a period of time can cause problems like shorter stature and fragile bones. If your child requires steroids make sure your doctor has a plan to wean them off as quickly as possible. The more aggressive treatments may include gold shots.

There are also some newer more advanced medications that are available. Inquire with your doctor about these if your child is suffering from a more advanced case.

Systemic-onset Juvenile Arthritis is one of the more difficult ones. It is also referred to as Stills Disease. Usually the first signs of this type are high fever and a rash. The fever for this type of kids arthritis differs from an infection in that it will go away for a period of time during the day. The fever may only be bad once or twice a day. During the fever your child will look very sick and not want to be touched but when it goes away they'll appear fine. On occasion the fever and/or the rash will go away and not come back. The arthritis, however, continues to progress and can become very severe. While it is not a life threatening disease it can affect internal organs.

Again, the main form of treatment initially will be non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

A great naturally occurring anti-inflammatory is grape seed extract. This should be taken along with a full spectrum multi-vitamin and minerals.

The Long Term Picture

Children with all forms of kids arthritis will usually and most likely do improve over time. With the proper therapy, most will grow up normal and lead normal lives. More drugs for treating this are not needed only more practical application of the resources already available.

As a parent it is import to recognize any symptom and have it diagnosed by your doctor. Second, get the proper treatment from said doctor which may include physical therapy. Third, get proper education for your child and the rest of the family. Few grow up as "totally disabled" because of kids arthritis. More are often "disabled" because they were told they couldn't do things.

Treat your child just as you would if they didn't have arthritis. Remember that this disease affects the body and not the mind.

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