July is Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month, a month dedicated to increasing awareness of the early signs and symptoms of juvenile arthritis and to ease the focus of resources for this battle.
There are many forms of juvenile arthritis (JA), the disease attacks the child’s joints and immune system causing pain, inflammation, and stiffness. With multiple types of JA, each form affects the child differently.
Common Types of Juvenile Arthritis
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA)
Considered the most common form of childhood arthritis, JIA includes six subtypes: oligoarthritis, polyarthritis, systemic, enthesitis-related, juvenile psoriatic arthritis or undifferentiated.
An inflammatory disease, juvenile dermatomyositis causes muscle weakness and a skin rash on the eyelids and knuckles.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease. The most common form is systemic lupus erythematosus, or SLE. Lupus can affect the joints, skin, kidneys, blood and other parts of the body.
Scleroderma, which literally means “hard skin,” describes a group of conditions that can cause the skin to tighten and harden.
This disease causes blood vessel inflammation that can lead to heart complications.
Mixed connective tissue disease
This disease may include features of arthritis, lupus dermatomyositis and scleroderma, and is associated with very high levels of a particular antinuclear antibody called anti-RNP.
This chronic pain syndrome is an arthritis-related condition, which can cause stiffness and aching, along with fatigue, disrupted sleep and other symptoms. More common in girls, fibromyalgia is seldom diagnosed before puberty.
An early diagnosis is a key to stopping greater progression and damage from the disease. Although there have been advances in identifying JA earlier, we are still not where we need to be, as many children are misdiagnosed until they are referred to a pediatric rheumatologist. This is one reason why spreading awareness about juvenile arthritis this month is so important.