Child Rheumatoid Arthritis

Child rheumatoid arthritis can create distractions, which can distract their learning development. Treat this before it is too late.

Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA) is rheumatoid arthritis that is diagnosed in children under the age of 16. It's a disease that not only attacks the joints, but also can affect the whole body. JRA can cause stiff joints, swelling, pain inflammation, and can cause permanent damage to the joints if not treated. It can also affect the nerves, heart, lungs and the eyes. Children should have their eyes tested at least once a year to make sure their eyes aren't being affected by JRA

Parents need to be prepared to deal with their child's pain and suffering. They will need to be supportive and forgiving to a child who may become more irritable and whiny because they are always feeling sick or in pain. This isn't always easy especially for parents of very young children. Getting involved with other parents of JRA children is a great way to find the support you will need.

The child may also need counseling to better understand that they are not being punished for anything and that the pain is from a disease and not because they were bad or anything.

Rheumatoid Arthritis is much more than just painful joints. It can cause inflammation of the heart lining, which is called Pericarditis. The coronary arteries can also experience some inflammation as well. The lungs can be affected, too. A decrease in kidney function can occur. All body functions can be affected by JRA. The bones, muscles, nervous system, skin and eyes can all be adversely affected by JRA. Medication is the best way to control these things. Some of these conditions can be fatal if not treated, but this is a rare occurrence with proper treatment and medication.

The signs of JRA are stiffness in the morning that lasts more than 4 hours, redness, swelling, pain, weight loss, fatigue, fever, nausea and pea sized lumps under the skin. These symptoms must be noticed every day for a period of 6 weeks or more before a diagnosis can be clearly given. The child may have flu-like symptoms and may feel tired and achy along with having the stiff joints. There is no cure for JRA. A child can go into a remission, but they can always have a reoccurrence in the future.

Because of the difficulty a child may have walking, running or doing other activities. If the joints in the knees are affected, the child may be slightly delayed in learning to roller skate or ride a bike. Their gait may be a bit different because of the pain and stiffness. The use of Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) are to keep the pain and joint damage under control. With medication and physical therapy most children can keep this under control. For more severe cases, the use of corticosteroids administered orally can greatly reduce the swelling and pain. Tetracycline type antibiotics have been shown to aid in the treatment of JRA.

When dealing with joint stiffness in the morning, most doctors will recommend range of motion exercises to keep the joints loose. Doing these exercises will decrease the pain and stiffness over time. Most doctors will recommend walking and other low impact exercise to keep the child in shape physically and to keep the joints moving. Pain management is what most doctor's work on most with their patients. There are ways to manage pain with use of medication and non-medication. Some use relaxation techniques to help reduce the pain while others use a topical pain reliever. Use of whirlpool baths can greatly reduce the stiffness and pain. Sometimes cold works better. It's all trial and error when it comes to seeing what works for pain.

There may be some gastrointestinal distress in children but not due to the JRA but from the medications being taken to control the disease. Make sure that medication is never discontinued without checking with the doctor first. Some of these medicines can be really rough on the digestive tract and most suggest taking them with food. If there is still distress talk with your doctor to see about medicine to counter the stomach irritation.

© High Speed Ventures 2011