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Arthritis

Father_and_SonChildhood arthritis is the 4th most common chronic disease in children, and it affects more than 1 in 250 kids. (CDC)  Arthritis in children is an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation of the joints.  Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) is commonly undiagnosed, as many adults don't realize kids are at risk.

There are as many as eight different types of arthritis that can affect kids.  The most common form, oligoarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis, usually affects girls at one or two years of age. Oligoarticular JIA usually affects just a few joints, but can involve devastating complications in the eyes, including blindness.

Diagnosing a child with JRA can be challenging, as children in pain may not be able to verbalize how they're feeling.  In some insances, they do not distinguish the pain as it's all they know.  JRA usually manifests as pain or stiffness in one or more joints, such as the leg, arm, hand, or spine. Arthritis can often cause stiffness or inactivity, especially in the morning, after a nap or long car ride.  Sometimes the child will return to normal activity within an hour or two.  Parents need to be observant and not wait for the child to identify that something is wrong. The earlier JRA is treated, the better the outcome.  (Source:  Dr. Yukiko Kimura, Hackensack University Medical Center & Growing Up Green:  Baby and Child Care by Deirdre Imus)

Resources:

  • Article: Can Arthritis Occur in Children? by Dr. Yukiko Kimura: Learn more...
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