July is Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month. It’s hard to fathom that young children live with a disease commonly associated with elderly people. But, according to the Arthritis Foundation, roughly 300,000 children in the United States suffer from arthritis, making it one of the most common childhood diseases in this country.

Causes of Juvenile Arthritis

Typically, the term arthritis refers to inflammation of the joints. Juvenile arthritis (JA), however, can also refer to inflammation of the eyes, skin, and gastrointestinal (digestive) tract. This childhood disease has a wide variety of forms and researchers are doing their best to better understand the causes and best treatment plans.

Most types of JA are autoimmune or auto-inflammatory diseases, which means the child’s immune system attacks the body’s own healthy cells and tissues. The exact causes of JA are currently unknown. Researchers believe certain genes may play a role in the development of the disease when they are activated by a virus, bacteria, or other external triggers.

Diagnosis

JA will usually begin to present itself with pain and a limited range of motion. Some children may experience odd rashes, swelling of the joints, or new issues with their eyes. A doctor will first take a medical history, then they will want to run some blood tests to check for inflammatory markers that would suggest arthritis as a possible cause of these symptoms. Many pediatricians, upon suspecting JA, will refer the parents to a rheumatologist, a doctor who specializes in treating arthritis.

Treatments

Currently, there are no cures for juvenile arthritis. The good news is, with early detection and the right treatment plan, remission of the disease is possible.

Some of the most common treatments for JA include:

  • Medication to combat inflammation. These may include corticosteroids and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs).
  • Surgery
  • Physical therapy
  • Healthy eating – an anti-inflammatory diet such as the Mediterranean diet is often used to decrease inflammation.
  • Hot and cold treatments

Chiropractic has also been shown to have tremendous benefits in treating people of all ages with arthritis. If your loved one is suffering from juvenile arthritis and you would like us to develop a personalized care plan, please give us a call or stop by our office. No child should have to suffer from pain, and we go above and beyond to ensure your child gets the best treatments available.

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