Think arthritis is something only senior citizens need to worry about? Think again.
Your child is complaining about pain and seems to be having a hard time moving around, especially in the morning. His eyes look inflamed and he frequently has a fever.
Could it be arthritis?
You don't tend to think of children when you talk about arthritis, but almost 300,000 children in the United States have it, according to the Arthritis Foundation. When kids are diagnosed with any type of arthritis before 16, it's referred to as juvenile arthritis. It is an autoimmune disorder, where the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue and cells.
You should be aware of the symptoms so you can ask your doctor if your child exhibits any of them. But many of them could signal more common, less serious conditions that have nothing to do with arthritis. For an arthritis diagnosis, a doctor will want to do a physical, consider family history, run lab tests and maybe order X-rays, as well as consider the symptoms.
The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) lists these symptoms of juvenile arthritis:
- Joint swelling, pain and stiffness that doesn’t go away. It may be worse in the morning or after a nap.
- Limping in the morning because of a stiff knee
- Excessive clumsiness
- High fever and skin rash
- Swelling in lymph nodes in the neck and other parts of the body
- Eye inflammation
- Growth problems or uneven growth
What to Do
An accurate diagnosis is the most important step to treatment, the Arthritis Foundation says. There is no cure, but arthritis can be managed with a combination of medication, physical activity, eye care and proper nutrition. Doctors may also recommend devices such as splints to maintain normal bone and joint growth.
You can help your child, NIAMS says, by learning as much as you can about the disease and treatment, encouraging exercise and physical therapy, reaching out to your school and treating your child as normally as possible. You will also want to make sure your family is receiving the best care possible.
At Plantation General Hospital, no matter what your child's concerns, we have extensive pediatrics services. Our Children's Center includes a Pediatric ER, a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit as well as other specialties. You can reach our pediatric department by calling (954) 513-6070 or find a doctor through our online search.