Juvenile Arthritis



What is Juvenile Arthritis?

When rheumatoid arthritis occurs in children, it is often referred to as Still’s disease. However, it usually means arthritis in a child aged 16 years or less, which persists for a minimum of three months, and affects at least four joints. The outcome may be variable. Frequently, as the child becomes older, the disease simply vanishes, leaving no aftermath. In others, it develops into the adult form of rheumatoid arthritis. In a few, it will affect mainly the pelvic joints and develop into an ankylosing spondylitis.

The most probable age of onset is between one and three years. It affects boys and girls equally. In about one case in ten, the first sign is a sudden rapid swelling of one knee joint. This may be accompanied by a high temperature, a feeling of malaise, a rash, increased white cell count and swelling of the lymph glands and spleen. Or, this set of symptoms may not take place, and the joint swelling may not occur for some weeks or even months later. This has led some doctors in recent times to consider that some infective organism is responsible for the arthritis.



Generally speaking, the symptoms are very similar to the disease as seen in adult. It differs in that the joints of the fingers and toes are affected first, and that the neck vertebrae often involved, severely and at an early stage. Also, the growing plate of bones may “close” prematurely, so reducing further growth of the involved bones. The eye is affected adversely about 10 percent of cases, and this very important for it means that eye juvenile arthritis must be checked by an eye doctor. Left untreated it may progress to blindness.

In those children in whom the growth plates of the bones have been involved in premature cessation or reduction, growth may take place and local defect in the bones may also occur. This may result in short bones of the fingers, hands, toes and feet, and non-symmetrical lengths of the limbs. In severe cases, general systemic defects may take in a small number of this involvement may lead to a fatal outcome, but majority do well. In the vast majority, patient does well, but in about 15 per cases, the child will develop into form of rheumatoid arthritis.



Juvenile Arthritis Treatment

Treatment is essentially the same as it the adult. Greater efforts must be to prevent limb deformity, by such as splinting the limbs at night therapy etc. This will help to pre-flexion deformities (the limbs be fixed in a semi-bent position, and could lead to a considerable of disability).