Seeking Relief – July Is Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), one form of juvenile arthritis, is quite prevalent, affecting more than 50,000 children in the U.S. alone. Overall, nearly 300,000 children have been diagnosed with some form of juvenile arthritis.
JIA is often referred to as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) in the U.S. Other specific names and forms of juvenile arthritis include systemic onset JIA or Still’s disease, oligoarticular JIA (affecting fewer than five joints), polyarticular JIA (affecting five or more joints), enthesitis-related arthritis, and juvenile psoriatic arthritis. 
When juvenile arthritis first shows its symptoms in a child’s body, many parents write off swollen joints and fever as a flu bug, or think a sudden rash might have occurred from an allergic reaction. The symptoms might even recede slightly before showing up again, sometimes delaying diagnosis for quite some time. After all, who expects a small child to have arthritis?
Different forms of arthritis have varying life spans and degree of symptoms, but JIA is different — it’s an autoimmune disease that has the body actually warring with itself in its efforts to recover. While juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder, much like the adult version of rheumatoid arthritis, recent arthritis research shows that JIA stands alone, independent in how it actually attacks and affects a child’s body.
Most people don’t know that kids get arthritis. A child’s immune system is not fully formed until about age 18; so an autoimmune form of arthritis is especially aggressive in children, compromising their ability fight normal diseases and leaving them open to complications that may affect their eyes, bone growth, and more.
Signs and symptoms of juvenile arthritis include joint pain, swelling, fever, stiffness, rash, tiredness and fatigue, loss of appetite, inflammation of the eye, and difficulty with activities of daily living such as walking, dressing, and playing.
Juvenile arthritis can appear in children as young as 6 months and as old as 18 years. Young adults still suffer the pain of the juvenile forms of arthritis. Joint pain, reddened joints, and swelling that refuses to dissipate are the key symptoms. Rheumatologists are finding that the number of joints affected has a parallel connection to the severity of the disease and the likelihood of achieving total remission.
The Arthritis National Research Foundation funds arthritis research to find a cure for arthritis, and this includes trying to find a cure for the hundreds of thousands of children suffering each year with this debilitating disease.
By supporting arthritis research specific to juvenile arthritis every year, the foundation aims to provide hope for a better life for the kids and their families living every day with arthritis. To learn more about juvenile arthritis and donate toward much-needed research, visit curearthritis.org

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