Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis: Often Misdiagnosed?

July 12, 2008 by  
Filed under ARTHRITIS

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Many times here I have mentioned that arthritis in children isn’t uncommon anymore these days. Statistics show that the rate children being diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is increasing.

In the U.S. alone:

A recent Centers for Disease Control study estimates that nearly 300,000 children in this country suffer from some form of arthritis.

Also, experts are saying that the diagnosis of JRA in children are tricky. Often there is a risk of misdiagnosis.

According to Dr. Norman Ilowite, M.D., of Children’s Hospital at Montefiore:

“It’s often a surprise because most people are under the impression that arthritis is mostly a disease of adults and older adults.

Swelling in a joint, limited mobility, and redness as well as heat over a joint.

Those symptoms are often dismissed as growing pains, infection or injury in children.”

The most common form of arthritis in children is juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. From the Mayo Clinic:

Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) — which causes joint inflammation for at least six weeks in children 16 years old or younger — is the most common type of childhood arthritis. In most cases, symptoms of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis may fade after several months or years.

Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis can be complicated. There are several types of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, classified based on the joints affected, symptoms and test results.

Treatment of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis focuses on preserving physical activity to maintain full joint movement and strength, preventing damage and controlling pain.

So what to do? Parents should indeed be vigilant and keep their eyes and ears open as to your child’s health. It pays to always to regularly visit your pediatrician. In the case of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, seek medical advice as soon as possible if you child is showing  joint swelling, stiffness or pain.

Also, if your child has a fever of 102 F that persists for longer than two or three days, take him or her to the doctor. A fever that signals juvenile rheumatoid arthritis may come and go one or two times during a day and last a few hours each time. It’s frequently noted in the afternoons or evenings.

If your child has received a diagnosis of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, take him or her to your doctor regularly to monitor the development of the disease and its treatment.

Children with pauciarticular JRA need regular screening for eye inflammation. A child diagnosed before age 7 with pauciarticular arthritis should have his or her eyes checked every three months if a blood test shows the child is anti-nuclear antibody (ANA) positive. Anti-nuclear antibodies are proteins generally found in people who have connective tissue or autoimmune disorders, such as arthritis.

It pays if the parents read about the condition and find a good doctor for your child. Probably those that that refer you to the best specialist.

Mayo Clinic is one rich resource of information on juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.

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