Posted by: wockhardthospitals | July 27, 2009

Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis:Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

When Rheumatoid Arthritis occurs in children below the age of 16 it is termed as Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis or juvenile arthritis. Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of the Joints and in some cases inflammation of the tissue around the Joints as well as other organs of the body.


Autoimmune diseases occur when the bodies own immune system attacks tissue and cells in the body due to a failure to recognize its own constituent parts.

The disease is chronic in nature and requires prolonged periods of treatment. Medication is generally regulated according to the progress made by the patient.

If Rheumatoid Arthritis is not detected in the early stages and treated accordingly irreversible joint damage could occur. Untreated cases could lead to major complications effecting the eyes, nervous system, lungs and kidney.


Children suffering from this disease are often misunderstood and not taken seriously when they are in pain due to a lack of public awareness about the disease and even doctors wrongly diagnose it as Rheumatic Fever.


Symptoms


Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis is characterized by Joint pain generally in the hands and feet accompanied by stiffness which is worse in the mornings, swelling in the joints and loss of proper function. The disease can affect people of all ages. In some cases the symptoms develop gradually over the years and in others there is rapid progression.


Causes


The exact cause of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis is unknown. The disease is thought to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors, hormones could also be involved. Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis is an auto immune disease where the bodies own immune system attacks the joints and organs. The cartilage wears down, the space between the bones narrows and in advanced stages the bones rub against each other causing the bones to erode. The joints become very painful and inflamed.

Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis is not hereditary however it is more prevalent in some circles of society than others


Diagnosis:


A simple blood test would be enough to diagnose the disease. However blood tests in the early stages may not detect it. Generally a 6 week period is given before the patient is treated to rule out other diseases.


Treatment:


Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis needs to be treated with specific medication to help control and slow down the disease. Poor awareness of the disease among the general public and the medical community often leads to late or wrong diagnosis. Patients are generally treated symptomatically with pain killers, anti-inflammatory drugs and steroids that merely give temporally relief. However, the disease it self is not treated leading to complications and possible irreversible damage.


In recent times there has been a breakthrough in the treatment of the disease with biological therapy (designed to restore the ability of the body’s immune system). This new therapy has yielded good results and is increasingly being used for patients where conventional medication fails to work or where there are too many side effects.


What does the doctor say?


It is important to diagnose and treat the disease in the early stages to avoid complications later on in life. With the right treatment the quality of life for a child can be improved.


The lack of awareness about the symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis among the medical fraternity often results in late diagnosis. This disease is often confused with Rheumatic fever where the children are treated wrongly, many children suffer from the disease for months and even years before the disease is diagnosed and the proper treatment is given.

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