Arthritis is not essentially an ‘old man’s disease’. Children can also fall victims to this disorder. In many cases, proper diagnosis does not occur at the right time. As a result, the affected children fail to get treatment when they are in need of it. Juvenile arthritis also has emotional consequences. The child feels miserable as his friends and teachers do not comprehend their problem, since they believe arthritis does not affect the young. However, medical statistics show that one in every ten thousand children do develop arthritis.
Just like all other arthritic forms, juvenile arthritis is also characterised by changes in joints. The characteristic features are joint inflammation, joint contracture (stiff, bent joint) and joint damage that are marked by alteration or change in growth. As a result of arthritis, the muscles and the surrounding tissues may become weaker. However, the extent of these symptoms varies from child to child. It may even be different on each day for the same child. A paediatric rheumatologist is the right person to whom your child should be taken to, once the diagnosis is made.
It is on the basis of the number of affected joints that juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is classified. Pauciarticular arthritis is that kind of arthritis in which four joints gets affected within six months of preliminary symptoms. Polyarticular arthritis affects five or more joints within six months of illness. Pauciarticular arthritis is generally “painless” and is often identified by swollen knees. Polyarticular juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is a more severe form of the disorder and if not treated properly, the child’s condition will soon become worse. Another commonly found kind of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is that in which only one joint is affected but causes swelling of internal organs.
A precise diagnosis test for juvenile rheumatoid arthritis does not exist. In many cases, a series of tests is done in order to get a true picture. In most cases, it is when all other possibilities are ruled out that doctor suspects it to be a case of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.