In children, arthritis usually begins before the age of 16 years. Symptoms such as limping, reduced activity level, and joint swelling can be indicators that inflammation and disease are present.
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Explore This IssueMay 2012
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Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) is terminology used to describe a child with chronic pain and arthritis. There are several types of JIA, including systemic onset JIA, oligoarticular JIA, polyarticular JIA, and enthesitis-related arthritis.
Living a Normal Life with JIA
While juvenile arthritis can cause joint damage and limit function, rheumatologists strongly encourage children with JIA to live normal lives.
According to pediatric rheumatologist Leslie S. Abramson, MD, associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Vermont College of Medicine in Burlington and author of the ACR’s patient fact sheet on JIA (see an excerpt here), “Children with JIA should attend school, participate in extracurricular and family activities, and live life as normally as possible.” She adds, “To foster a healthy transition to adulthood, adolescents with JIA should be allowed to enjoy independent activities, such as taking a part-time job and learning to drive.”
Keys to Confidence
A team approach to healthcare, interaction with other children, and access to disease information can ensure that children with JIA grow up to be confident.
Tailored treatment from a healthcare team (including a pediatric rheumatologist, physical and occupational therapists, a social worker, and a nurse specialist) is encouraged to ensure the best care. Also suggested is interaction with other children who have JIA. In addition to patient education supplied by the ACR, the Arthritis Foundation, the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, and the American Juvenile Arthritis Organization offer resources to learn about JIA.
Help your patients grow up to be confident, even thought they have arthritis, by providing information about juvenile arthritis and other rheumatic diseases, medications, and topics. ACR Patient Fact Sheets can be downloaded by visiting www.rheumatology.org and clicking on “Patient Resources” under “Popular Content.”