Juvenile chronic arthritis

A rare form of arthritis affecting children. Juvenile chronic arthritis occurs more often in girls, and usually develops between 2 and 4 years of age or around puberty. There are 3 main types. Still’s disease (systemic onset juvenile arthritis) starts with fever, rash, enlarged lymph nodes, abdominal pain, and weight loss. These symptoms last for a period of several weeks. Joint pain, swelling, and stiffness may develop after several months. Polyarticular juvenile arthritis causes pain, swelling, and stiffness in many joints. Pauciarticular juvenile arthritis affects 4 joints or fewer. Possible complications include short stature, anaemia, pleurisy, pericarditis, and enlargement of the liver and spleen. Uveitis may develop, which, if untreated, may damage vision. Rarely, amyloidosis may occur or kidney failure may develop. Diagnosis is based on the symptoms, together with the results of X-rays and blood tests, and is only made if the condition lasts for longer than 3 months. Treatment may include antirheumatic drugs, corticosteroid drugs, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or aspirin. Splints may be worn to rest inflamed joints and to reduce the risk of deformities. Physiotherapy reduces the risk of muscle wasting and deformities. The arthritis usually clears up after several years. However, in some children, the condition remains active into adult life.


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