July is Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month

Kids get arthritis too.

July 1, 2016


When most people talk about arthritis, it’s in the context of a senior citizen suffering from the painful joint disease. But did you know nearly 300,000 children in the United States suffer from some form of juvenile arthritis?

The most common autoimmune inflammatory disease is known as juvenile idiopathic arthritis or JA which can develop in children under the age of 16. Symptoms include limping, excessive clumsiness, high fever, skin rash and swelling of lymph nodes in the neck.

This month is Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month and we’re hoping to help shed light on who it affects and tips to live a healthy life.

According to the CDC, in 2012, total hospital charges related to juvenile arthritis and other rheumatologic conditions was $4.45 billion.

Surprisingly, physical activity is the best way to relieve arthritis pain. By participating in a physician approved program, kids can use swimming, bicycling or dancing as fun ways to reduce swelling and pain caused by JA.

More information can be found on the National Institute of Health website here.

Here are some quick facts from the NIH about juvenile arthritis.

  • It affects children across all socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds.
  • Occurs more frequently in girls than boys.
  • It’s an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks healthy cells and tissues.
  • There is no easy way for doctors to determine if a child has juvenile arthritis, so several tests are needed to diagnose.
  • The best way to treat juvenile arthritis is through a team approach, with pediatric rheumatologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, counselors, dietitians, school nurses and many more specialists.
  • Exercise is key to treating and living with juvenile arthritis.

Starlight Community Partners Provide Innovative Support

Rheumatologists at Boston Children’s Hospital treat more than 2,500 juvenile arthritis patients every to identify and treat every child’s unique illness. Inflammation of arthritis should be addressed as quickly as possible to avoid injury to a child’s cartilage and allow for normal growth which is why the hospital is involved in a number of studies looking at aggressive early care in JA, and is a pioneer in the use of emerging therapies such as anakinra, one of a new class of drugs called biologics.

As an innovator in the quality and continuity of care, the hospital’s Samara Jan Turkel Clinical Center for Pediatric Autoimmune Disease brings together experts and specialists from throughout the hospital to provide comprehensive, coordinated treatment and support for children and their families. For patients who require treatment into adulthood, a Children’s rheumatologist heads the Center for Adults with Pediatric Rheumatic Illness at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital helps to ease the often-difficult transition to the adult health care setting.

Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center in Downey, CA is among those partners who provide highly-trained specialists practicing state-of-the-art medicine in a loving and supportive atmosphere.

The center helps both child patients, from infancy to 21 years, and their families as they go through the treatment process. Rancho treats children suffering a variety of catastrophic conditions, including: brain injury, neuromuscular disorders, spinal cord injury, tracheostomy and ventilator dependency.

Every patient is assigned a team of specialists and Rancho’s university and research centers bring together world-renowned specialists.

One of the most recognized programs is “The Art of Rancho” which provides patients an outlet for drawing and painting. A fun tidbit is that all classes are led by world-renowned artists who are also former patients of Rancho.

Another Starlight community partner, Jacob’s Ladder Pediatric Rehabilitation Center in Chesterton, Indiana, recently opened a new indoor therapy center for kids who are undergoing outpatient physical and occupational therapy, including those with JA. Their beautiful new therapy room allows kids to climb up on the pirate ship and hang from monkey bars all while undergoing therapy. Click here for more info about the new Jacob’s Ladder therapy room.

The most important thing is that juvenile arthritis can be treated and children can live happy, physically-active lives.

Meet Emily

My name is Emily and I am 6 years old. I was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis when I was 2 years old. I am on lots of medications, but sometimes I get so sore I have to go to the hospital to have joint injections done just so I can move or walk again. During these hospital stays, Starlight always puts a smile on my face and makes my stay so much better.



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