Study Suggests That Improved Treatment Options are Making a Difference for Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis Patients

According to a story from Juvenile Arthritis News, a recent study shows that a greater percentage of children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis are participating in school sports activities in the last 15 years. This suggests that recent treatment advances are improving the mobility of patients in comparison to earlier years. While it can be difficult for many patients with this disease to stay active, the results of the analysis are nevertheless encouraging.

About Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis is a rare form of arthritis that primarily affects children and teens. While it is known that the disease is autoimmune in origin (meaning that the immune system begins to attack healthy tissue by mistake), what triggers the beginning of the autoimmune response is not known. Any disease considered “idiopathic” does not have an identified cause. Some risk factors for juvenile idiopathic arthritis include being female and a family history of the disease. Symptoms include limping, vague flu-like symptoms, fatigue, loss of appetite, swelling of the joints, joint pain and stiffness, growth problems, and eye inflammation. Juvenile idiopathic arthritis can also lead to complications such as vision problems, osteoporosis, and joint deformities and contractures. Treatment approaches often include physical therapy, NSAIDs, corticosteroids, and certain chemotherapy agents that suppress the immune system. Surgery may be necessary in severe cases. To learn more about juvenile idiopathic arthritis, click here.

About The Study

As there is not much data that specifically has looked at the physical activity levels of children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis, the researchers chose to look at school sports participation as an alternative. School sports programs are good ways for children to become more physically fit and active. It can also help improve their self-confidence and improve bone strength and muscle growth.

For this study, the scientists looked at data from the years 2000-2015. This data set included information from 23,016 children and teens that have juvenile idiopathic arthritis. The percentage of participation in school sports during these years more than doubled from 30.8 percent in 2000 to 63.6 percent in 2015. This was associated with a decreasing percentage of patients that were exempted from school sports and an increase in the number of patients who had no functional limitations and whose disease was considered inactive.

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis patients who participated in school sports were more likely to use disease modifying anti-rheumatic therapies. Overall, these results suggest that outcomes for these patients are improving, and that exercise itself could also help maintain remission of symptoms.

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