Also known as Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA), Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA) is a type of arthritis that occurs in children and may manifest different types of symptoms, depending on the child. When you hear arthritis has been diagnosed for your child, it can be quite perplexing because you would normally hear it in regards to older people.
JRA does share common symptoms with other forms of arthritis. It is not caused by breakdown of cartilage between bones like in osteoarthritis nor is it like ankylosing spondylitis which usually causes pain around the spine. Its cause is, instead, the white blood cells' inability to distinguish between healthy cells and harmful bacteria; this causes the white blood cells to release chemicals that hurt the healthy cells, causing pain and inflammation. This article will help you recognize these symptoms so you know when you have to consult your doctor for your child’s treatment.
- Fever. This is a common indicator for most diseases, but it is a little different for JRA. The fever spikes up during the night and then suddenly disappears by morning. Children could get fevers due to minor problems like colds and inflamed tonsils, so make sure your child is not suffering from any of these first before jumping to conclusions. The type of fever in JRA comes and goes in a distinctive pattern of spiking at night and disappearing the next day. The child may only attribute this to not feeling well or eating something bad, so make sure to check with the doctor if one or more of the other symptoms appear together with the fever.
- Joint pains. There may be different types of joint pain that your child may be experiencing. This can vary, from affecting only some joints in the hands to affecting nearly all of the major joints. The child might not be able to express exactly what hurts so you must be observant of your child when you see him preferring one leg over another. If the child will tell you, touch the joints and feel whether they feel warmer than normal or look swollen. The swelling may subside, or the joint may remain swollen so make sure to go to the doctor at the soonest possible time.
- Rashes. Since this type of arthritis deals with the child’s immune system, problems like rashes could manifest. Like the fever, the rash comes and goes; be sure to also check for other causes for the rashes. This symptom can also be seen with psoriatic arthritis, but children do not usually have this type of arthritis.
- Anemia and loss of appetite. You may also notice that your child has poor appetite. This can be caused by arthritis pain which the child may not be able to explain and just describes as feeling ill.
JRA can be treated, so long as there is early detection and therapy. The Arthritis Foundation has a lot of extremely helpful information regarding therapy or any other intervention process your child might need. They also have resources on available therapies and medications. For more information, go to this link: arthritis.org