A child's complaint of "achy joints" is usually perceived as "growing pains." However, it could be signs of something more serious: juvenile arthritis.
Approximately 300,000 children suffer from the chronic illness. It is a disease that requires a pediatric rheumatologist. Only 11 states have this kind of specialist. More often than not, juvenile arthritis has a delayed diagnosis because symptoms are inconsistent.
“It takes time to figure out that this chronic reoccurring fever is arthritis, not recurrent ear infections or viral infections. That's probably the most common reason for delaying diagnosis of it,” explains Dr. Darrell Carpenter, a rheumatologist at Southeastern Pediatrics.
Unfortunately, the disability cannot be prevented. Some red flags are swelling, redness, and warmth of a joint. A family history of the disease may also trigger pain. Luckily, treatment lies in pharmaceuticals.
“The first line of defense is going to be the anti-inflammatory medicines,” said Carpenter.
However, the front line needs back-up, too. If left untreated, steroid injections are the next remedy. Still, Dr. Carpenter said the disability does not have to stop your child from playing their favorite sport.
“I actually have had patients who have had arthritis and managed to participate in gymnastics or softball,” he explained.
Early diagnosis will reduce the “pain" of juvenile arthritis. For more information, click on the 4 More Info tab.