An Overview of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is a type of arthritis that affects roughly 75,000 young people in the United States. As the name implies, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis affects children and young people. Most diagnosed cases of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis affect young people between the ages of six months and sixteen years. Like rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is also classified as an immune deficiency syndrome. Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis represents an autoimmune reaction wherein the body produces antibodies that attack its own joint tissues. Although scientists have not determined that precise cause of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, studies point toward various causes. The most popular hypothesis speculates that juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is caused by the body’s inability to differentiate between the body’s own tissue and foreign invaders, such as viruses and bacteria. Ironically, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis may actually be the result of the body’s efforts to defend itself against disease.

There are three primary forms of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. They are polyarticular, pauciaticular, and systematic juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Polyarticular juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is diagnosed when swelling is present in at least five joints throughout the body. Most of the affected joints are those described as weight bearing joints, which include joints in the hands, neck, hips, knees, and ankles. Weight bearing joints are those that receive the brunt of the pressure and weight that is endured by the body. The second form of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is described as pauciarticular. Pauciarticular juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is described as a form of the disease that tends to affect four or less joints. Symptoms of pauciarticular juvenile rheumatoid arthritis include selling, stiffness, discomfort or severe pain around the afflicted joints. Most often, pauciarticular juvenile rheumatoid arthritis affects the joints of the wrist and knee. One distinguishing feature of pauciarticular juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is that it may also affect the eyes. The iris may become inflamed due to this form of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Indeed, ophthalmologists are often among the first to diagnose cases of many cases of pauciarticular juvenile rheumatoid arthritis because their work allows them to detect early signs of the diseases. The third form of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is described as systematic. Systematic juvenile rheumatoid arthritis refers to the fact that the disease may sometimes affect the patient’s whole body. Children afflicted with systematic juvenile rheumatoid arthritis may suffer from fevers, rashes, and the requisite feelings of joint stiffness and overall pain and discomfort. Other symptoms that are specific to the systematic form of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis include the enlargement of the lymph nodes and the spleen.

The treatment of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis usually consists of an aggressive treatment of NSAIDs class drugs. These are non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs that are commonly used to treat the symptoms of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Regular physical activity is also prescribed and is important in order for the patient to retain their natural range of motion and flexibility, particularly in the synovial joints. High impact, weight bearing exercises like tennis and running, however, should be avoided because these may cause permanent joint damage.