Management of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis

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By Dr. S. Gupta , Pediatrics

The most common form of arthritis which occurs in adolescents and children is known as Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). It is an autoimmune and inflammatory joint disease which usually lasts for around 6 weeks.

Being an autoimmune disease, changes in the environment provoke the immune system to act.
Experiments have shown that certain types of viruses are able to trigger JIA.

Associated Factors Include:

  1. Genetic Susceptibility:It is possible for you to develop this condition if anyone from your family had earlier or has been diagnosed with it.
  2. Psychological Stress:This factor potentially worsens the symptoms of JIA.

The exact cause of JIA, as the word idiopathic suggests, is unknown.

SYMPTOMS-

Symptoms of JIA usually are non-specific and include:

  1. Lethargy, poor appetite and reduced physical activity.
  2. The first signs of this condition in children might be limping and they might fall ill more often; exhibiting flu-like symptoms.
  3. Continuous swelling of affected joints.
  4. Pain occurring all over the body.
  5. Morning stiffness that gets better as the day progresses.
  6. Joint contracture and damage.
  7. Inflammation in the front of eye (iridocyclitis).
  8. Hindrance in growth.

TREATMENT-

The main objective of the treatment is to help the patient attain normal physical and social life. This is done using a combination of techniques of pain management, physical therapy and support. Another major area of focus is the control of inflammation and extra-articular symptoms.

Medications for JIA usually include intra-articular corticosteroid injections and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Other aspects include occupational and physical therapy involving exercise and use of supportive and protective equipment. Swimming is highly recommended and the pain can be relieved using cold packs. Warm showers can aid in improving the mobility of the joint. Surgery is only required in worst case scenarios.