What is Juvenile Arthritis?

July is juvenile arthritis awareness month.

By Kevin RR Williams

HEALTH Perhaps you consider arthritis to be a geriatric disease. As we age, the yolk-like synovial fluid that lubricates the joints is not as plentiful. Stress might affect weight-bearing joints over time. So it's expected that there would be some resulting discomfort. But there are different forms of arthritis and the cause is not as simple as synovial fluid depletion nor is this ravager of mobility limited to the elderly.

Arthritis is a complex family of musculoskeletal disorders consisting of more than 100 different diseases or conditions that destroy joints, cartilage, bones, muscles and other connective tissues, hindering and impairing physical movement. With no known cause, juvenile arthritis is a broad term used to describe the many autoimmune and inflammatory conditions that can develop in children under 17 years of age. [1]

What is Juvenile Arthritis?

Osteoarthritis is the most common joint disease caused by injury or normal wear-and-tear on aging joints. By contrast, rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, progressive autoimmune disorder. In response to an unknown trigger, the body makes antibodies that attack its own tissues, primarily the joints, although they can also affect other body parts. Prompt diagnosis and regular treatment is required to protect joints. [2]

Arthritis Treatment Options

Medications used to treat juvenile arthritis can be divided into two groups:

  1. Drugs that help relieve pain and inflammation (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs, corticosteroids and analgesics).
  2. Drugs that can alter the course of the disease, put it into remission and prevent joint damage, a category known as disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and a newer subset known as biologic response modifiers (biologics).

According to Dr. Oz, there are alternative health treatments designed to reduce the pain of inflammatory conditions. Though non-restorative, they can offer symptomatic relief. A study of 204 people with hand osteoarthritis found that using arnica gel (available over the counter in your local pharmacy for about $10 per tube) for 21 days worked as well as ibuprofen. [3]

In a 2012 study, about a third of patients experienced substantial pain relief from acupuncture. This could be a low-cost substitute for knee surgery. Researchers believe the needles, when properly applied, may trigger nerves to signal the brain to release endorphins that naturally dull pain.

Arthritis Research Funding Opportuntities

Extensive research is underway to better understand the genesis and progression of arthritis. Dr. Neil Segal focuses on ways to use common imaging techniques, like X‑rays, CT scans or MRIs to generate maps of the stress on the cartilage in the knee joint. The Arthritis Foundation Research Program is accepting applications for senior investigators seeking arthritis research grants endeavoring to help adults and youths remain A Bit More Healthy. [4]

Tags: alternative medicine, chronic pain, kids, misconceptions, myths, rheumatology

  1. Juvenile Arthritis. arthritis.org ^
  2. Rheumatoid Arthritis: 8 Top Myths. webmd.com ^
  3. Dr. Oz's 7 Alternative Treatments for Chronic Pain. oprah.com ^
  4. Arthritis Funding Opportunities. arthritis.org ^