It may come as a surprise that children can develop arthritis too, but one out of every 1000 children who are between six weeks and sixteen years of age develop arthritis. Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) is most common in preschoolers and teenagers. If a Black child develops juvenile idiopathic arthritis, he or she is more likely to suffer severe joint damage than whites. There have been several advancements in the treatments for JIA. However, the condition is often difficult to diagnose.
JIA more common in girls
Gender also appears to play a major role in JIA.
“Experts believe there are two main reasons for the gender differences in Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA). Firstly, girls get autoimmune diseases in greater numbers than boys. Another reason is it appears that hormones do play important role in developing such conditions,” explains Dr. Shreedhar Archik, Senior Consultant, Orthopaedics and Joint Replacement, Global Hospitals.
Dr. Archik says most cases of juvenile arthritis are sporadic and appear in children who have no history of the disorder in their family.
Why is JIA difficult to diagnose?
JIA is difficult to diagnose because the symptoms significantly overlap with other diseases, such as joint infection, malignancy, metabolic bone diseases etc.
Additionally, there is no single test that is able to confirm a diagnosis. However, tests can rule out the possibility of other conditions. According to research, about 76 percent of JIA cases have a delayed diagnosis by about 3 months.
Delayed diagnosis leads to delayed treatment and the worsening of symptoms. This can result in children suffering deformities that carry into adulthood.
A child can develop the following conditions from delayed treatment:
- Frequent flare-ups
- Growth retardation
- Joint contractures
- Muscle weakness and loss
- Eye problems
How to help your child
If you spot the following symptoms, you should get your child checked out by a doctor: