Juvenile arthritis : Symptoms and prevention

Juvenile arthritis: what is it?

Juvenile arthritis is found in both boys and girls and affects one in 1,000 children under the age of 16 , making it the most common chronic childhood disease (more than cystic fibrosis , diabetes , etc. .). It is not a communicable disease, and it is not known what causes it. What is believed is that the immune system is deficient and attacks healthy tissue. Juvenile arthritis can occur after infection, but infection is not a cause.

This disease manifests as inflammation and pain in one or more joints that lasts for more than six weeks (symptoms may have another cause). There are different forms:

  • rheumatic oligo-arthritis;
  • systemic arthritis;
  • polyarticular arthritis;
  • psoriatic arthritis;
  • spondyloarthropathy;
  • rheumatoid arthritis (an adult disease that begins in childhood).

Because of the varied symptoms and forms , and also because young children do not accurately describe the condition they are suffering from, a clear diagnosis may require x – rays and blood tests .

Juvenile arthritis, in addition to being usually painful , can cause permanent damage . Some forms also affect other tissues (eyes, skin, intestines) and severe forms can affect growth . In most cases, after an evolution of ten years (on average), marked by periods of relapses and remissions, it fades and disappears.

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Symptoms, risk factors and prevention of juvenile arthritis


The child may complain of caregivers when waking up or after a nap. He may have difficulty doing certain things with an arm or a leg. One or more of the joints may be red and swollen .

Risk factors

One study found that food allergies were in some cases an aggravating factor in juvenile arthritis. 2


Official medicine rarely mentions it, but many authors stress the importance of good nutrition in preventing arthritis (like many other diseases). However, since the cause of juvenile arthritis is still unknown, there is no recognized way to prevent it.

 Prevent pain and stiffness

Children with arthritis (just like adults) struggle with morning stiffness and pain in the joints , which can be prevented or at least reduced by various means, such as exercising and applying heat or of cold on the joint.

 Prevent osteoporosis

Children who need long-term corticosteroids are at risk for osteoporosis. One study showed that supplementing with calcium and vitamin D, two important substances for bone integrity, reduced the risk of osteoporosis in children receiving long-term corticosteroid therapy for juvenile arthritis. 4

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Medical treatments for juvenile arthritis

According to the Arthritis Society, “There is no cure yet for juvenile arthritis. However, there are drugs that can decrease inflammation caused by arthritis and therefore can improve the effectiveness of exercise programs and minimize permanent joint damage. »It usually takes a few months for the drugs to take effect.

The drugs used are of the same type as those indicated for rheumatoid arthritis. Some have the effect of reducing symptoms (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and corticosteroids), while others slow the progression of the disease (long-standing anti-rheumatic drugs).

It should be noted that, for children, great importance is also given to rehabilitation exercises  : with an occupational therapist or physiotherapist, an exercise plan is defined to ensure harmonious growth and muscle development , as well as to prevent loss of muscle . range of motion and permanent damage or deformity . It is sometimes indicated to carry out exercises in hot water (balneotherapy). In some cases, splints are used to support the joints (day or night) to prevent them from being overworked.

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Complementary approaches to juvenile arthritis

According to our research, there are no unconventional treatments supported by studies that are sufficiently conclusive to relieve the symptoms of juvenile arthritis.

Massage therapy. A controlled study has shown that short 15-minute massages given by parents allowed after a month to decrease pain and increase children’s well-being . 3 Since massage therapy relaxes the muscles and allows better oxygenation of the tissues , several support organizations recommend it to people with arthritis.

Juvenile arthritis : Symptoms and prevention
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