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7/29/22 blog post

can kids get arthritis?

young girl with knee pain

Yes! Although it’s different from the arthritis that your grandma might have, children can get arthritis too. As a parent, you know that aches and pains come with the territory of having children which can sometimes make it difficult to diagnose arthritis in kids. But about 1 in 7 kids is affected by juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA).

So you may be wondering, what is JIA? Dustin Fleck, MD, division chief of rheumatology, explains what JIA is, and some common misconceptions about kids and arthritis.

what is JIA?

  • Juvenile – symptoms start before 16-years-old.
  • Idiopathic – Idiopathic means the cause is unknown. Genetic, hormonal, environmental and infectious factors may be involved, although no clear trigger has been identified.
  • Arthritis – inflammation of joint which can cause swelling, pain, and limitation of motion.

JIA can sometimes be mistaken for growing pains or possibly an injury, but if pain is lasting longer than six weeks and causing your child difficulty with daily activities then JIA could be the cause.

4 misconceptions about JIA

  1. JIA only affects joints

False. JIA can affect the eyes, skin and internal organs, as well as joint inflammation, swelling and pain.

  1. JIA isn’t treatable

False. JIA isn’t curable but with the right treatment your child can feel themselves again! Treatment may include medication and/or physical therapy to build up and strengthen joints.

Some goals of JIA treatment may include:

  • Slowing or stopping inflammation and preventing it from getting worse
  • Relieving symptoms by controlling pain
  • Preventing joint and organ damage
  • Protecting joint function for adulthood
  1. Kids outgrown JIA

Although this can be true and kids can go into remission, most children who have JIA will deal with it forever. But by following the treatment provided by your rheumatologist the disease can be controlled.

  1. Kids with JIA shouldn’t play sports

If your child’s arthritis is under control, they can participate in sports and other daily activities.

If your child has joint pain or swelling that has lasted longer than six weeks, you may want to discuss JIA with your child’s provider. For questions regarding rheumatology, or to schedule online with one of our pediatric rheumatologists, click here.

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Dustin Fleck, MD

division chief rheumatology
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