What Is Arthritis?
Arthritis is the inflammation of joints – a disease that causes swelling, stiffness, and pain in a person’s joints. Joints are where two bones meet, allowing our bodies to move — the hips, knees, ankles, elbows, shoulders, knuckles, etc. Joints contain synovial fluid, which acts as a lubricant to help them move easily. Arthritis can keep joints from working properly.
Do Kids get Arthritis?
Arthritis is typically thought of as a disease of the elderly but unfortunately kids get infected by arthritis too. The very common one found in kids is called juvenile idiopathic arthritis or JIA (it’s also called juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, or JRA).
Juvenile means young, so this means that JIA is different from the arthritis that adults get. Kids can have many different types of arthritis, but JIA is the most common.
There are other common arthritis that affect children, they include:
Transient Synovitis (Inflammation) of the Hip
This is the most common form of arthritis in children. It can develop suddenly between two and ten years of age and then disappear after a short time, with no serious lasting effects. The most common cause is a virus, so it is frequently seen after an upper respiratory infection. Treatment is rest and anti-inflammatory medication (such as ibuprofen), which may make the symptoms go away quicker.
Bacterial Infection of the Joint
When a joint becomes infected with bacteria, it causes pain. This pain makes the child walk with a limp or refuse to bear weight on that limb or decreased movement if in an upper extremity. Since this is a bacterial infection, the child also will typically have a fever. Notify your pediatrician immediately if these signs or symptoms appear.
If an infection involves the hip, it can be a serious condition and needs to be properly diagnosed and treated by a specialist (usually an orthopedist). Treatment can include a needle aspiration of the hip joint, surgical drainage, and intravenous (IV) use of antibiotics.
An infection transmitted by the deer tick can cause a form of arthritis known as Lyme disease. (It’s called this because it was first diagnosed in a child in Old Lyme, Connecticut.) This infection often starts with a red mark that is surrounded by a light ring or halo, which occurs on the skin at the site where your child was bitten by the tick. Later, a rash may appear on other areas of the body.
The child also may develop flulike symptoms such as headache, fever, swollen glands, fatigue, and muscular aches and pain. Then arthritis may develop weeks to months after the skin rash.
Almost all cases of Lyme disease can be readily treated with antibiotics, even if arthritis develops.
More about juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis or JIA – the most common arthritis in kids
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) has previously been referred to as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis or juvenile chronic arthritis. This is the most common chronic form of joint inflammation in children. JIA is a puzzling disease that is often difficult to diagnose and for parents to understand.
Common symptoms are persistent joint stiffness and swelling of one or multiple joints, pain, and unexplained fever. If your child has any of these symptoms—and/or an unusual pattern of walking, especially in the morning or after naps, call your paediatrician. Surprisingly, many and perhaps even most children with JIA do not complain of pain when they first develop symptoms of the disease.
JIA occurs most often in children between the ages of three and six years or around the time of puberty. It is unusual for JIA to begin under one year of age or after age sixteen. Although this condition can be disabling, with proper treatment many children fully recover by the time of puberty.
The exact cause of JIA is still unknown. Researchers believe that JIA may be triggered by or perhaps is related to a viral infection in children who have an abnormality in their immune (disease-resistance) system. In some children the virus causes only a mild illness. But for others, the virus causes the immune system to overreact and trigger inflammation, joint swelling, and pain.
The signs, symptoms, and long term effects can vary depending on the type of JIA. A form of JIA known as systemic JIA causes not only fever and painful joints, but also may damage internal organs.
When systemic JIA strikes the internal organs, the child can develop either pericarditis (an inflammation of the outer covering of the heart), myocarditis (an inflammation of the heart muscle), pleuritis (an inflammation of the lining of the lungs), or pneumonitis (an inflammation of the lung tissue itself).
Inflammation can also occur in the brain and its lining; this condition is called meningoencephalitis, but it is less common than the other conditions described above. There are two other types of JIA—pauciarticular JIA (affecting one or more joints) and polyarticular (affecting many joints).
Pauciarticular JIA can be associated with inflammation of the eye, which in turn can cause glaucoma or cataracts. Pauciarticular JIA is the most common form, most often affecting young girls.
It also has the best prognosis relative to disability and ultimate outcome.
However, it is important to know that JIA is not contagious, so you can’t catch it from someone else.
How do children contact Arthritis?
From the above types and kinds of Arthritis commonly found in kids, the causes can be listed under one of the following:
Virus: there some viruses in the environment that may inflict pain and inflammation of the joints. An example could be from a bite from a tick and other infectious insects or creatures.
Genes: certain genes in children may have the likelihood of receiving a particular disease from their parents.
Bacterial infection: if a child’s joint comes in contact with certain bacteria, the child may start to limp especially if it is on the knee as a result of the pain
Injury: an injury or infection in the joint can advance the progression of arthritis. It paves way for a virus or bacteria
Family history: if a parent has a history of a child may likely inherit it.
Can Arthritis be transmitted from mother to child during birth?
According to a study, children born to mothers with rheumatoid arthritis are at increased risk for the disease and other chronic health problems.
This finding came from an analysis of long-term follow-up data on all children born in Denmark in a 25-year period.
That included more than 2,100 children born to women diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis before pregnancy and 1.3 million children born to women who did not have the disease.
The children born to women with the disease were almost three more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis themselves, the study found.