Juvenile arthritis: Still so much to learn…

Did you know that children can also suffer from arthritis?

In Canada, it is estimated that one out of every 1,000 children lives with a form of arthritis called juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). The disease affects four times more girls than boys and usually develops between the ages of one and sixteen. It is called “idiopathic” because the cause is not yet known.

JIA, which affects the joints, is an autoimmune disease. This means that the body’s immune system – its defense system – mistakenly attacks its own joints. As a result, the body produces too much liquid in the joints, and this makes the joints swollen and painful. The pain is usually mild to moderate. Between 20 and 30 percent of children with JIA develop an eye inflammation called uveitis, which can damage their vision and even lead to blindness if it isn’t treated in time.

It can take months or even years before JIA is diagnosed, especially in young children who are unable to express what they are feeling. However, once diagnosed, several treatment options are available today to control the disease.

As yet, there is no cure for JIA. Children with the disease will therefore have it for life. The disease is cyclical, though, which means it alternates between periods where the disease is active (with symptoms) and periods of remission (without symptoms). The length of those cycles varies from one child to another. Some have short periods with symptoms, followed by long periods of remission, while others have shorter cycles. The goal of treatment is to achieve remission and maintain it for as long as possible.

If you have any questions about juvenile arthritis, don’t hesitate to speak to your pharmacist.  

www.arthritis.ca

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