How juvenile arthritis may affect your child’s growth

Arthritis isn’t just an adult’s disease. Kids can and do get arthritis, and it can affect their health in many ways. If your pediatrics specialist has diagnosed your child with arthritis, it’s important to follow his or her treatment plan closely, including having regular visits with the doctor so that your child’s condition can be monitored. Here is what you need to know about juvenile arthritis and how it may affect your child’s growth.

Juvenile arthritis 101
Juvenile arthritis is not a disease but is instead an umbrella term that refers to multiple forms of arthritis that can affect kids. Some of the forms of arthritis that fall into the category of juvenile arthritis are:

  • Juvenile idiopathic arthritis
  • Juvenile lupus
  • Juvenile scleroderma
  • Juvenile dermatomyositis

All forms of juvenile arthritis can cause different symptoms, and some forms of the disease cause little joint pain at all but instead affect the eyes, muscles, skin, or gastrointestinal tract.

Juvenile arthritis and growth
Whether juvenile arthritis affects growth depends on many different factors, including:

  • Type of disease
  • Severity of disease
  • Effectiveness of treatments

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis, which itself contains multiple subsets of the arthritis, is the most common form of the disease to interfere with growth. In addition to joint pain and swelling, this form of arthritis can affect the way that bones grow. Kids with this form of arthritis who experience changes to their bone growth may have bones that grow too slowly. When the lower extremities are affected, height can be impacted.

Growth can also be affected by treatments for juvenile arthritis. Often, kids with arthritis take corticosteroids to control their symptoms. Long-term use of steroids is associated with delayed growth that may be permanent.

Working closely with your child’s doctor at Sunrise Children’s Hospital is essential after a diagnosis of juvenile arthritis. With the right treatments, symptoms can be controlled and the risk of complications can be reduced. Call our children’s hospital in Las Vegas at (702) 233-5437 for more information or a referral to a pediatrics specialist.

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