When Growing Pains Are Not Growing Pains

Although rare, juvenile arthritis (JA) affects over 200,000 children in the US each year. It can cause a constellation of symptoms or be localized to one joint.

Examples of JA include:

  • Oligoarticular – pain in four or less joints for at least six weeks
  • Polyarticular – pain in five or more joints for at least six weeks and is rheumatoid factor negative or is rheumatoid factor positive
  • Systemic – joint pain plus:
    • Enlargement of the lymph nodes.
    • Enlargement of the liver or spleen.
    • Inflammation of the lining of the heart or the lungs.
    • The characteristic rheumatoid rash, which is flat, pale, pink, and generally not itchy.
  • Enthesitis JA – pain at muscle, ligament and capsule attachments and 2 of the following:
    • Inflammation of the back
    • A positive blood test for the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) B27 gene
    • Onset of arthritis in males after age 6
    • A first-degree relative diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, enthesitis-related arthritis, or inflammation of the sacroiliac joint in association with inflammatory bowel disease or acute inflammation of the eye.

Your podiatrist and/or dermatologist may recommend:

  • Blood test for markers that identify types of arthritis (rheumatoid factor, human leukocyte antigen, etc.)
  • Radiographs of the affected joints
  • A team of specialists to coordinate treatment
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, disease modifying drugs or steroids
  • Physical therapy, orthotics and/or splints
  • In extreme cases or later in life, fusion of the joints may be recommended

Half of children who experience JA find it resolved within months to years. However, the remainder still have symptoms of arthritis into adulthood. Early recognition and early treatment can alleviate many of the symptoms and help the child to have a full life.

Please visit our website for more information or call 614-885-3338 (FEET) to schedule an appointment with us at our Columbus, Gahanna or Dublin, OH office.