Arthritis is often associated with older people, but it can also affect children. Most types of childhood arthritis are known as juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). JIA causes pain and inflammation in one or more joints for at least six weeks.
Although the exact cause of JIA is unknown, the symptoms often improve as a child gets older, meaning they can lead a normal life.
Oligo-articular JIA is the most common type of JIA. It affects fewer than five joints in the body – most commonly in the knees, ankles and wrists. Oligo-articular JIA has good recovery rates and long-term effects are rare. However, there’s a risk that children with the condition may develop eye problems, so regular eye tests with an ophthalmologist (eye care specialist) are recommended.
Polyarticular JIA (polyarthritis)
Polyarticular JIA, or polyarthritis, affects five or more joints. It can develop at any age during childhood.
Systemic onset JIA
Systemic onset JIA begins with symptoms such as a fever, rash, lethargy (a lack of energy) and enlarged glands. Later on, joints can become swollen and inflamed.
Like polyarticular JIA, systemic onset JIA can affect children of any age.
Enthesitis-related arthritis is a type of juvenile arthritis that affects older boys or teenagers. It can cause pain in the soles of the feet and around the knee and hip joints, where the ligaments attach to the bone.
There’s no cure for arthritis, but there are many treatments that can help slow down the condition.
For osteoarthritis, medications are often prescribed, including:
- non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
In severe cases, the following surgical procedures may be recommended:
- arthroplasty (joint replacement)
- arthodesis (joint fusion)
- osteotomy (where a bone is cut and re-aligned)
Treatment for rheumatoid arthritis aims to slow down the condition’s progress and minimise joint inflammation or swelling. This is to try and prevent damage to the joints. Recommended treatments include:
- analgesics (painkillers)
- disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) – a combination of treatments is often recommended
- Regular exercise
- Massage and others
- Herbal Medicine
- Aroma Therapy
- Magnet Therapy
- Copper bracelet