There is a common misconception that arthritis is a condition that exclusively affects the elderly. According to a report from Arthritis Research, nearly 300,000 children in America have been diagnosed with juvenile arthritis. Among the different types, Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) is the most common among children and teenagers. While some types of juvenile arthritis affect the musculoskeletal system, others can affect the eyes, skin, muscles and the gastrointestinal tract. Early diagnosis and treatment are vital to prevent growth abnormalities. If left untreated, it can lead to loss of mobility, blindness and even death.
July is observed as juvenile arthritis awareness month. The main message of the month is that arthritis affects children as well as adults. Images can be shared on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to show support for the people suffering from this condition. Wearing a blue bracelet also indicates support for children who are suffering from this condition.
Symptoms of JIA include joint swelling and pain, stiffness, fatigue and sleep difficulties.
Different lab tests to diagnose arthritis in children and teens include –
- CBC (Complete Blood Count) that counts white cells, red cells, and platelets
- Blood culture to check for bacteria which could indicate an infection in the bloodstream
- C – reactive protein (CRP) that measures the concentration of a protein called C – reactive protein in the blood. The higher the concentration, the more severe the inflammation is.
- CPK (Creatinine Phosphokinase) that is used to detect the presence several enzymes released from muscle cells when they are damaged by inflammation.
- HLA (Human Leukocyte Antigen) – B-27 typing – this blood test detects the presence of a B27 variant of a gene involved in immune regulation.
- RF (Rheumatoid Factor) – A test designed to detect and measure levels of a specific antibody directed against the blood component immunoglobulin G (IgG).
- Urinalysis, in which urine is examined under a microscope.
Other common tests include imaging tests such as MRI, X-rays, and bone scans; and biopsies.
The 2015 National JA Conference will take place in Orlando, Florida, from July 23-26. Hosted by the Arthritis Foundation, the event is an occasion where more than 1,000 kids, teens and young adults with arthritis, and their parents and siblings convene to learn and play.