I used to work with a woman who had a houseful of kids, so she always had an interesting story to tell. One story that stands out to me is when she began leaving her two-year-old in the care of her mother, the grandma.
After about a month, the toddler started groaning every time she stood up. My co-worker was very concerned because this had never happened before with any of her children.
Off to the doctor they went, and then to a specialist, and then for tests, but no answers were forthcoming.
The groaning continued whenever she stood up.
Finally, one Saturday, my friend, her mother, and the toddler went shopping. Grandma suddenly dropped something. She bent down to retrieve the item, and as she stood up, she emitted a deep groan because her back hurt. As it turns out, my friend’s daughter was simply imitating her grandma, and there was nothing wrong with her at all.
Would that it were so for kids who suffer from juvenile idiopathic arthritis, or JIA, an inflammatory disease for which there is no cure.
Of course, you know that “idiopathic” means the cause is unknown. That said, the disease is broken down into a number of different categories:
- Systemic JIA, which causes inflammation in the joints. Another symptom is a very high spiking fever that can last more than a week.
- Oligoarticular JIA mainly affects the large joints, like knees and elbows. Kids with this form are particularly prone to uveitis, or chronic inflammation of the eye.
- Polyarticular JIA affects more than four joints, including smaller joints like those found in the fingers. It mimics rheumatoid arthritis and can be very severe.
- Juvenile psoriatic arthritis involves psoriasis of the skin, which usually presents long before the joint pain sets in.
- Enthesitis-related JIA causes tenderness where bone meets tendon and most frequently targets the hips, knees, and feet.
- Undifferentiated arthritis is the catch-all that describes any form of juvenile arthritis that doesn’t fall into any of the preceding categories.
If your child seems to be in pain, don’t just let it go. Very young children often have trouble articulating their discomfort. If you would like more information about JIA, visit The Arthritis Foundation online.