When you hear “arthritis”, you may immediately think of someone elderly, right? But arthritis can affect children as well. This is called juvenile arthritis. Juvenile arthritis is an autoimmune condition, meaning the body attacks its own cells. The cause of this is somewhat unknown, though the thought is that the condition has both genetic and environmental components. 

Juvenile arthritis impacts about every 1 in 1,000 children. It can occur in children of all ages and may affect one joint or many. The severity is quite variable, but children may experience fever, rash, joint swelling, joint pain, and/or joint stiffness. Patients with juvenile arthritis may develop uveitis, or eye inflammation, as well. A more serious type is systemic arthritis, which causes inflammation of the internal organs. Fortunately, this is also the least common type of juvenile arthritis.

Many patients with juvenile arthritis require some form of treatment. This may be with medications or non pharmacological methods, such as physical therapy or occupational therapy.  A patient may also be followed by a nutritionist, exercise specialist, and/or ophthalmologist to help reduce flare ups. While there is no known cure, many children continue to have very active lives. They can maintain their daily activities, play with peers, and even participate in sports. 

If your child has been diagnosed with juvenile arthritis, it is important to gather all of the information you can about the details of the diagnosis. What type is it? How many joints are involved? Do you know of any environmental triggers? If so, there may be some great ways to prevent flare ups! Ask your provider what kinds of treatments are available and appropriate for your child based on the diagnosis. Each child’s care plan is unique. There may be some trial and error to figure out which treatments work best, but as a team your child can live an active and fulfilling lifestyle.

There is still so much to learn about juvenile arthritis and its treatment modalities. Check out some of the resources below for additional information.

Caretakers with children who have been living with juvenile arthritis, tell us in the comments what you found to be the most helpful non-medication treatment method for your child.