Arthritis is typically associated with the process of growing old. Many people did not consider it possible for a younger person to suffer from arthritis. It is accepted as a part of growing old, but is nearly dismissed as a possibility in younger children. Teens and children can suffer from juvenile arthritis and they can suffer from a form of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) too. However, just because it has the word arthritis in it does not mean that it is the same disease that occurs in adults.
Like adult rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. In this disease the body cannot tell the difference between its own healthy cells and other invaders that must be destroyed. Under normal circumstances the autoimmune system protects the body from invaders such as bacteria and viruses. In JRA and adult rheumatoid arthritis, when there are no invader cells to attack the body releases chemicals that can cause damage to healthy tissues. This is the main source of pain and inflammation in juvenile arthritis.
Juvenile arthritis can be a debilitating disease and has many of the same life limiting affects as adult arthritis. Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis can be divided into several different categories. The first category is the type that appears between the ages of 6 months and 16 years. They present many of the same symptoms as adult rheumatoid arthritis sufferers. They will complain of joint pain, swelling, redness, or warmth in the joints.
Juvenile arthritis can cause many other problems in children. They are limited in their activities and often cannot interact with children of their own age in play activities. This can affect the mental health of the child. The goal of treatment in juvenile RA is to make the disease go into remission. When many joints are affected it is more difficult to make the disease go into remission. Oligoarticular JRA affects four or fewer joints. An inflammation in the iris of the I eye might also be present in this type of juvenile arthritis. Polyarticular arthritis affects the small joints of the hands and the weight bearing joints such as the neck, knees, ankles, and feet. Systemic arthritis can affect the whole body. This type of juvenile arthritis makes the child feel ill, turn pale, and develop a rash that comes and goes.
Juvenile arthritis is serious, but it is not same as adult arthritis. Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is more likely to go into remission when treatment can begin when only one are two joints are affected. Many times parents and physicians will dismiss the early stages of juvenile arthritis as growing pains. Juvenile RA can be diagnosed through blood tests and it should be ruled out before unusual joint pain and arthritis symptoms are dismissed in children.