Kids Get Arthritis Too
July is Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month. At NY Foot Health, we know that many people think of arthritis as an “old person’s” disease but in fact, nearly 300,000 children also have arthritis, which can have a very debilitating effect on young feet and ankles. Juvenile arthritis has many similarities to adult onset arthritis. For starters, the term arthritis actually refers to a large number of different conditions that affect joint and skeletal health, including idiopathic arthritis, fibromyalgia and juvenile lupus.
Early detection is important. Starting treatment before the disease advances can slow its progression and prevent permanent joint damage. Spotting symptoms can be challenging because some of them may mimic other childhood illnesses or just fatigue. In addition, children may not always be able to fully articulate symptoms. Some signs to look for include:
Redness of the skin
Feeling of heat around the joint
Sometimes, the early signs may be more obscure. Lagging behind playmates, sitting on the sidelines or a reluctance to participate in physical activities your child normally enjoys may all be hints of lower leg, foot or ankle pain.
Diagnosis and Treatment
If you notice any of the above symptoms, contact your podiatrist for an appointment. Don’t have a podiatrist? Our online directory can help you find a qualified foot doctor in your community. The podiatrist will do a complete examination of your child’s feet and get a medical history. More research needs to be done but scientists believe that juvenile arthritis is a result of genetics and environmental factors.
There are many treatments available for juvenile arthritis. The specific plan for your child will depend on the exact type of arthritis he or she has and how far it has progressed. In addition to medications, a nutritious diet rich in antioxidants and foods known to have anti-inflammatory properties as well as regular exercise can all benefit a young arthritis patient.
To learn more about arthritis and other conditions that can affect your feet, contact us.