- Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) is an autoimmune disorder affecting children under 16.
- Common symptoms include pain, swelling, joint stiffness, fever, rash, and fatigue.
- Genetics, environmental factors, gender/age, obesity, and physical inactivity can increase the risk of JIA.
- Medication, physical activity (ballroom dancing), and alternative therapies can help treat/prevent JIA.
- Early diagnosis and treatment can help manage the condition successfully without disruption.
As a parent, you always want to monitor your child’s health and well-being. Therefore, being aware of your child’s medical condition is crucial. Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) is one such condition that can affect your child’s health. JIA is a type of arthritis that affects children under 16. If you suspect your child has JIA, here’s what you need to know.
What is JIA?
JIA is an autoimmune disorder when your child’s body’s defense system attacks its healthy tissue. The symptoms of JIA may vary from child to child. However, some common symptoms include pain, swelling, and stiffness in the joints, particularly in the knee, wrist, and ankle. Your child may also experience fever, rash, and fatigue, making it difficult to participate in everyday activities.
Certain adolescents are more vulnerable to the disease than others. Here are some common risk factors for the disease:
JIA is considered to be a genetic disease. Children with a family history of arthritis or autoimmune diseases like lupus, psoriasis, and inflammatory bowel disease have a higher risk of developing JIA. According to studies, the risk for JIA in a child whose sibling suffers from the condition is ten times higher. If a parent has JIA, the child’s risk of developing the disease is 2-5 times higher than a child without a family history.
Environmental factors can also trigger Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis. Infections, particularly viral infections such as rubella, mumps, and parvovirus, can stimulate the immune system and trigger the onset of JIA. Exposure to toxins can also cause the onset of JIA. For instance, exposure to cigarette smoke, pesticides, and industrial chemicals can increase the risk of developing JIA.
Gender and Age
JIA can affect both genders, but girls are at a higher risk of developing the condition than boys. The condition commonly occurs between one and three years of age, and most children aren’t diagnosed until the toddler or preschool years. However, children can develop JIA at any age.
Obesity has been identified as a risk factor for various diseases, including JIA. Being overweight puts excess pressure on the joints, leading to inflammation, hence a higher chance for JIA. A study found that children who were obese were three times more likely to develop JIA than children who weighed a healthy amount.
Leading a sedentary lifestyle is also a risk factor for JIA. A study revealed that children who spend much time watching TV or playing video games had significantly higher rates of JIA than those who exercised regularly. Regular exercise strengthens the muscles around the joints and reduces inflammation, decreasing the risk for JIA.
Treatment and Prevention
Thankfully, there are various ways to treat and prevent JIA. Here are some of those ways:
One of the most common treatments for JIA is medication. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are commonly used to reduce joint pain and inflammation. Corticosteroids, such as prednisone, may also be prescribed to reduce inflammation quickly. Biologic agents can also be used to target specific parts of the immune system that are responsible for causing inflammation and joint damage.
Regular physical activity is essential for keeping your child’s joints flexible and improving mobility. Low-impact activities are perfect for maintaining joint health. One of the best and most accessible forms of low-impact activities is ballroom dancing.
Ballroom dancing is a fun and effective way to strengthen the muscles around the joints, improve balance, and increase flexibility. It also helps reduce stress and boost self-esteem. If you want to decrease the chances of your child getting JIA, consider enrolling them in local ballroom classes for kids. These classes can teach them the basics of ballroom dancing, and they can also have fun while doing it.
Alternative therapies such as yoga and acupuncture can also treat joint inflammation. Yoga helps reduce stress levels and improve joint flexibility, while acupuncture has been shown to relieve symptoms for people with JIA.
If your child is showing any signs of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, it’s essential to get them examined by a doctor right away. Early diagnosis and treatment can help control the disease and prevent long-term joint damage. With proper treatment, your child can live a whole life and manage their condition successfully without too much disruption. So don’t wait – get your child checked out if you suspect they may have JIA.