Arthritis is a musculoskeletal disorder which mainly affects the joints. It can affect other connective tissues of the body too. Juvenile arthritis is a type of arthritis which develops in children. Children under the age of 16 are commonly affected. It is a chronic disease which lasts for a long period. Juvenile arthritis is usually described as an autoimmune disorder. So the immune system itself causes damages to other healthy cells and tissues.
The exact cause of juvenile arthritis is still not known. It is assumed that affected genes from a family member enhances the chances of this condition. In such children, some environmental factors contribute to the onset of arthritis.
Stiffness, swelling and pain in the joints are the common symptoms. Pain is usually increases during morning. Other symptoms include:
- Swelling and inflammation in joint
- Weakened soft tissues or muscles
- Problems in growth development
- Fever and rashes on the skin
Early diagnosis is an important factor for proper treatment. The doctor initially reviews the medical history of the child. Certain tests such as x-rays, blood-tests, or tissue-fluid tests are done to confirm juvenile arthritis. Proper treatment is based on the type and severity of the juvenile arthritis condition. The treatment for juvenile arthritis include:
- Non-surgical Treatment:
The non-surgical treatment includes following procedures:
The medications form an important aspect of any treatment program. Non-steroidal ant-inflammatory dugs such as naproxen, ibuprofen, etc are commonly used to reduce pain and inflammation. For severe juvenile arthritis, stronger medications such as corticosteroids are used. They can be injected into the vein or given orally.
Physical therapy includes simple exercises which helps in maintaining muscle tone. They provide the lost functionality and mobility of the body. It gives a balance between daily activities and rest. Swimming is a good exercise to maintain joint alignment.
Children with juvenile arthritis often suffer from joint inflammation. Splints can be used to reduce the inflammations in joint. They also help to prevent contractures in arms or hands.
- Additional options
The sore joints can be improved by using electric blanket or warm baths.
- Surgical Treatment:
Surgery is seldom used to treat juvenile arthritis in children. Only in severe conditions, surgery is used to reposition the joint. Such a condition is joint deformation.
After the treatment is over, extreme care should be taken of the treated part. Aggressive activities which may cause problem should be avoided. A warm or cold pack should be regularly applied. Proper rest, in addition, to simple physical therapies are helpful. They help to reduce pain, stiffness and swelling in joints.
The possible complications involved are:
- Increased swelling and pain
- Reaction to medications
- Skin irritation