Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease where one’s immune system attacks the body parts. The synovial joints like that of finger, hand, elbow, knee, etc are affected in the preliminary stage and when the disease progresses it affects the other parts and organs like the heart, kidney, lungs, liver, eyes, etc. Rheumatoid arthritis that puts its impact on people below the age of 16 is often termed juvenile or childhood rheumatoid arthritis. Girl child are more prone to this disease and the cause of this disease is some environmental factor.
Early Signs and symptoms of childhood rheumatoid arthritis
Some early symptoms of this disease are swollen joints accompanied with pain and stiffness especially in the morning for at least one hour. The small synovial joints of finger, elbow, legs etc gets affected in the first stage. As the time passes away these affected joints and bones takes the shape of deformity. These symptoms of deformity can be seen in various places of the body. There are different types of juvenile or childhood rheumatoid arthritis. They are basically of three types: Polyarticular, Pauciarticular, and systematic onset juvenile or childhood rheumatoid arthritis.
- Polyarticular J R A- The involvement of more than five joints at a time is often termed as polyarticular juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Both sides of the joints are affected in this condition. The joints most commonly fall under impact are those of knee, ankles, and wrists. The impact may be further on the joints like hips, jaws, shoulders, and neck. This disease is more prone on female population.
- Pauciarticular J R A- the involvement of less than four joints at a time is often termed as pauciarticular juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Only one side of the joints are affected in this condition. The joints most commonly fall under the impact are those of knee, ankle, and wrist joints. Other symptom may include the irritation of eyes.
Systematic Onset J R A
In this condition generally small joints like that of hands, wrists, ankles, and knees are affected. Systematic onset J R A impacts both boy and girl in equal ratio. The symptoms may show fever for at least few months and some sort of skin rash on the chest and thigh region
Causes of childhood rheumatoid arthritis
The cause of childhood rheumatoid arthritis is not known and it is incurable in nature. It is an autoimmune disease. The cause can be some bacteria and viruses. The immune system of child instead of protecting the body cells goes on affecting it as an alien leaving the patient with pain and inflammation. Children having rheumatoid arthritis often suffer from some eye disease which can lead to permanent loss of vision or blindness. This eye disease often occurs with no symptoms. So parents are advised to have a regular visit of their child to an ophthalmologist.
Diagnosing and treatment of childhood rheumatoid arthritis
Diagnosing childhood rheumatoid arthritis is very important for better treatment. Diagnosing R A involves some blood tests for rheumatoid factor, tumor necrosis factor (T N F), etc and some X-rays. Its treatment involves some drugs like N S A I D s, D M A R D s and steroids like Corticosteroids. Other than these treatment patients are advised to have a healthy balanced diet and regular physical exercise.