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Video:Is It Juvenile Arthritis?

with Dr. Phillip Kahn

Juvenile arthritis can be a debilitating illness for a child to deal with. This video from About.com will give you a general overview of juvenile arthritis.See Transcript

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Transcript:Is It Juvenile Arthritis?

Hi, I'm Dr. Phillip Kahn, Pediatric Rheumatologist at the NYU Langone Medical Center for About.com. In this video, I'll be discussing the signs and symptoms of juvenile arthritis.

Meaning of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, which is now called juvenile idiopathic arthritis, or JIA, stands for a chronic arthritis without a known cause in children lasting for over 6 weeks. In contrast to adult rheumatoid arthritis, there are several different subsets of juvenile arthritis, the most common subset is oligoarticular JIA, which affects 4 or fewer joints.

Oligoarticular Juvenile Arthritis

Typically this is a child who presents with a painless swelling, usually of the knee. The knee is often not very warm, and not very painful, yet they have swelling and some limited range of motion at times. The arthritis is often not that aggressive, although if this arthritis is not picked up early enough it can affect the growth of that child's leg. What's more concerning is that in this subgroup of childhood arthritis, the patient is at increased risk for an asymptomatic eye disease called uveitis. These children require vigilant eye screening to pick up and to treat this eye disease.

Polyarticular Juvenile Arthritis

The next most common subset of juvenile arthritis is polyarticular arthritis, which is the involvement of pain and swelling of 5 or more joints in children. If we are talking about a teenager with symmetric polyarthritis of the finger joints with the presence of a rheumatoid factor, this is essentially adult rheumatoid arthritis. The other subsets of polyarticular arthritis are less well understood.

Caring for a Child With Juvenile Arthritis

As a parent, if you're concerned that your child may have arthritis, any child with a limp for more than a few days should be evaluated by a pediatrician. There should be a referral to a pediatric rheumatologist if joint swelling is appreciated on clinical exam. The earlier that the child can be evaluated by a pediatric rheumoatologist, the better for the child. Even though that's obvious, that's not always possible because there's a relative shortage of trained pediatric rheumatologists in the country. There are less than 200 in the country, with approximately 1 in 4 children having to travel more than 40 miles to see a pediatric rheumatologist.

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