Juvenile Arthritis: What You Should Know
July is Juvenile Arthritis Awareness month. Did you know nearly 300,000 kids in the United States have been diagnosed with juvenile arthritis (JA)? Here are some common questions and answers about JA:
What is it? Juvenile arthritis is inflammation of the joints that occurs in children.
What causes it? No one knows exactly what causes juvenile arthritis in children. It is an autoimmune disease, which means that the white blood cells can't tell the difference between the body's healthy cells and germs. Because of this, the immune system tries to protect the body from these germs and ends up damaging healthy tissue.
Does it hurt? Yes. Juvenile arthritis can cause swelling, heat sensation and pain. Symptoms may occur for only a few weeks or months, but can sometimes last a lifetime.
How is it diagnosed? Your doctor will use X-rays, bone scans and blood tests to rule out other illnesses that may be causing your child's symptoms. He will do a physical evaluation and ask questions about your child's medical history.
How is it treated? Juvenile arthritis is treated with a combination of medication, physical therapy and exercise. Sometimes, a child needs injections into the joint to relieve pain. Treatment is used to relieve pain, slow down the destruction of joints and restore the use of joints.
Sometimes, juvenile arthritis can manifest in smaller joints like the jaw. Click here to meet one of our patients with juvenile arthritis who was treated in our Diagnostic Clinic.