What is Juvenile Arthritis
Juvenile arthritis is the most common type of arthritis seen in children below the age of 17 years. In this disease, there is swelling, pain and movement restriction (stiffness) in the joints. This occurs due to swelling of the synovium, which is the inner lining of the joints.
Juvenile arthritis is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system reacts to body’s own cells mistaking it for some foreign body. It is believed to be caused by the interaction of environmental, genetic or infectious triggers.
Symptoms of Juvenile Arthritis
The 3 main symptoms of juvenile arthritis are:
- Pain: the child suffering from juvenile arthritis may not complain of joint pain constantly but he/she may have a limping gait especially in the morning when he/she gets up after a long period of inactivity at night.
- Swelling: the swelling of affected joints is very common, but it is first seen in bigger joints like knees.
- Stiffness: the child may find it difficult to move his/her joints especially in the morning when he/she wakes up.
Also, there can be symptoms like weight loss, fever, malaise and redness & pain in the eyes with blurred vision
There are 5 types of juvenile arthritis commonly found in children. They are:
- Systemic arthritis
- This type of juvenile arthritis affects the entire body or may involve many systems at a time. It is characterized by fever and rash which is mostly seen on the trunk, arms, and legs. This type arthritis can also affect other organs like liver, heart, and spleen or lymph nodes.
- Do not affect the eyes.
- Equal incidences in boys and girls.
- This type of juvenile arthritis affects less than 5 joints in the first six months of its onset in a child. Most commonly affected joints are ankles, wrists, and knees.
- This type of arthritis can affect the eyes especially the iris.
- It is seen more often in girls than boys and they have a more severe form of arthritis as they become adults.
- This type of arthritis involves 5 or more joints in the first six months of the disease.
- It affects the joints symmetrically, that is the same joints on both the sides of the body are affected.
- It involves the jaw and joints in the neck as well as the joints of hands and feet.
- Psoriatic arthritis
- The children affected with this type of arthritis often have both arthritides as well as the skin disease psoriasis.
- Any one disease out of psoriasis or arthritis can develop before the other. Sometimes the person may have one of the diseases, many years before the onset of the other.
- The children affected with this type of juvenile arthritis usually have pitted fingernails.
- Enthesitis-related arthritis
- In this type of arthritis, the joints that are commonly affected are the spine, hips, eyes, and entheses (the places where tendons attach to bones).
- This is seen more commonly in male children above the age of 8 years.
- There is often a family history of arthritis of the back (ankylosing spondylosis) among the child’s male relatives.
Causes of Juvenile Arthritis
Juvenile arthritis is an autoimmune disease wherein the immune system of the child attacks its own cells mistaking them for foreign bodies. However, certain genetic and environmental factors play an important role in triggering the disease. Certain abnormal changes in the genes make the child more prone to the environmental factors that lead to triggering of the disease.
Diagnosis of Juvenile Arthritis
It is difficult to diagnose juvenile arthritis as the symptoms are very similar to many other diseases. There is no specific test to diagnose juvenile arthritis. So the tests that are done mainly aim to rule out other diseases that may be causing the symptoms in the child.
- Complete blood count
- ESR (erythrocyte sedimentation rate): increased ESR suggests that there is an inflammation in the body. This helps to determine the level of inflammation that is present in the body.
- C-reactive protein: this test also helps to determine the level of inflammation in the body.
- ANA (antinuclear antibodies): these are the antibodies found in people having certain autoimmune diseases including juvenile arthritis.
- RA factor: found in the blood of children having rheumatoid arthritis.
- CCP (cyclic citrullinated peptide): it is similar to RA factor which is found in the blood of those who have rheumatoid arthritis.
- Blood culture: to rule out any infections in the bloodstream.
- Xrays or MRI scan
This is done to rule out:
- Congenital defects
- Joint fluid and synovial tissue sampling
- Regular gentle exercises to maintain the muscle strength and joint flexibility.
- Application of cold and heat compresses over the joints to help relieve pain and increase the flexibility of the joints.
- Healthy and a check on the weight is necessary.
Homoeopathic Management of Juvenile Arthritis
Homoeopathic medicines will help to improve the immune system of the child and stops the further progression of arthritis. The child gets relief from pain swelling and joint stiffness and since the medicines have no side effects they can be safely administered in children.
- pain and stiffness in joints morning initial motion rest
- continuous motion
- warm application
- dampness, cold in general
- swollen, red, hot, painful joints
- motion, touch, pressure
- Painful joints without swelling
- Unable to move the limbs
- Emaciation of lower limbs
- Rheumatism from checked diarrhea
- Juvenile arthritis where slight motion worsens pain
- Red painful swelling with oversensitiveness to touch
- Pain shifting from joint to joint < slightest motion
- Bloatedness of abdomen with nausea from smell and sight of food
- Affections of small joints
- Scanty dark red urine
- Juvenile arthritis where pain begins in lower limbs and ascends upwards
- Swelling of great toe
- Drawing type of pain worse from warmth, pressure, and motion
- Chilly patient but better by ice cold application
- Oedema of feet with profuse urination
- Ailments from alcohol abuse