About 1 in 250 children in the United States has juvenile arthritis, even though many people tend to think of arthritis as a disease only older people get. Arthritis can be particularly difficult for children, as it may prevent them from doing normal childhood things, like participating in sports or simply playing with their friends.
At Dr. Louis Keppler & Associates, our team understands the impact of juvenile arthritis, both physical and psychological. Our goal is to help your child live their life to the fullest, and manage the issues that come with a diagnosis of juvenile arthritis. In this post, we present some of the myths associated with this childhood disease.
Myth: There’s only one type of juvenile arthritis
Whether in children or adults, the term “arthritis” refers to numerous diseases that affect the joints. These conditions all cause inflammation, swelling, pain, and lack of mobility in the joints, but they’re separate diseases with various underlying causes.
The most common type of arthritis in children is idiopathic juvenile arthritis, which means no cause is obvious. Children can develop rheumatoid arthritis, spondyloarthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and numerous other forms of arthritis.
Myth: Children outgrow arthritis
Although it’s true that some children do outgrow arthritis, many do not. It’s better to understand your condition and be prepared for the possibility it could be lifelong than to experience the disappointment of not outgrowing your disease.
It’s also possible for a child to reach permanent remission, which isn’t the same as being cured or outgrowing arthritis, but it does mean that the disease is no longer causing damage to your joints.
Myth: Children with arthritis shouldn’t exercise
When your child is in pain, your first instinct may be to keep them still, so they can rest and heal. With arthritis, exercise and activity can strengthen the muscles and other structures that support the joints.
Our experts can help you and your child understand what exercises are safe, as well as how to go about getting strong enough to help the condition. Physical therapy may also be helpful.
Fact: Treatment is improving
There’s no cure for juvenile arthritis, but there are clear advancements in treatments and care, meaning it’s more likely than ever that your child’s disease can reach permanent remission or their symptoms can be controlled.
Treatment may be necessary even if your child reaches permanent remission, but long-term outcomes are continually improving as research into efficient treatments advances.
Fact: Genes matter
There is a genetic component when it comes to juvenile arthritis, so if you have a family history of the disease, and your child has swollen or painful joints, you should discuss it with your pediatrician.
Environmental factors also likely play a role, but scientists are unsure of what and how they are associated.
Fact: Juvenile arthritis is often undiagnosed
Because arthritis is usually associated with age, it can be difficult for parents to recognize the symptoms. Children, too, may not realize something is amiss. Making diagnosis even more difficult is the fact that there aren’t any laboratory diagnostic tests available.
If your child has joint pain, swelling, stiffness, especially in combination with fever, rash, or weight loss, schedule an appointment with a one of our specialists at Dr. Louis Keppler & Associates.