Arthritis is a term used to describe pain and inflammation affecting a joint. Any joint in the body can be affected by arthritis but the most commonly affected joints include joints of the hand and fingers, hip, knee, shoulder, lower back and neck. There are two main types of arthritis; osteoarthritis and inflammatory arthritis. The majority of cases of arthritis affect older adults. A very small proportion of people with arthritis can be young children or teenagers. Juvenile idiopathic arthritis is a type of inflammatory arthritis affecting young people. In juvenile idiopathic arthritis, the body’s immune system attacks the joints, causing pain, swelling and in some cases joint damage. The problem is very variable and can affect only one joint, a few or several joints around the body. Juvenile idiopathic arthritis is a rare condition and is only diagnosed by specialists.
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis is only diagnosed after a specialist has excluded other causes of your joint pains. If you or your child is suffering from a painful joint there are many other more likely causes, most of which will resolve on their own.
If your child has had a painful joint that has been ongoing for several weeks, they should be seen by your doctor. Your doctor may refer you to see a specialist for further examination and tests. If your child is diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis your doctor may recommend medication to help control the disease. In some children, the problem goes away on its own, in others, it can be long-term problem requiring long-term medication. It is particularly important to see your doctor if your child has a new painful joint or develops a limp associated with being unwell.