by Vishal Mehta, B.Pharm, RPh
About three in 1,000 Canadian children suffer from childhood arthritis (CA). The common symptoms of CA are stiffness, loss of mobility and joint swelling. Although the exact cause of arthritis is unknown, it may occur from an overactive immune system triggered by infection, injury, allergic/drug reaction, or autoimmune diseases.
Doctors diagnose CA through physical examinations, x-rays, blood and urine tests. Many children will experience both flares (worsening symptoms), and remission (symptoms disappear). CA may also affect your child’s growth, cause vision issues due to eye inflammation and jaw problems.
Treatment options aim to achieve remission since there is no cure for CA. There are a variety of medications available which are effective when taken regularly and exactly as prescribed. Surgery is rare and only occurs in the most severe cases to relieve extreme pain, deformed joints, restore mobility or replace damaged joints.
Physiotherapists and occupational therapists help your child maintain their physical abilities and participate in school, sport, and recreational activities. To relieve pain, stiffness and maintain mobility, children are encouraged to exercise, use warm showers, hot/cold packs, massages, splints if necessary, and rest as needed.
Living with CA can be challenging but many helpful resources are available.
Helping you feel better,