What is Arthritis?
Arthritis (arth-raai-tiss) is a disease that causes swelling, stiffness and pain in a person's joints.
Arthritis can keep joints from working properly.
DID YOU KNOW?
Joints are where two bones meet, allowing our bodies to move — the hips, knees, ankles, elbows, shoulders, knuckles, etc.
So this is what happens; normally, your immune system sends out white blood cells to protect the body and fight outside invaders like bacteria and viruses that can make a you sick. But with an autoimmune disease like JIA, the immune system makes a mistake and attacks healthy cells.
Instead of recognizing the healthy cells and saying, "Hi, HUD," the immune system thinks the healthy cells need to be destroyed and releases chemicals to fight the healthy cells. The chemicals released by the immune system cause the pain and swelling that can happen with arthritis.
Approximately 1 out of 1000 children in South Africa have arthritis, that is 30 million Children in our country alone with arthritis.
BUT ISN'T ARTHRITIS SOMETHING ONLY OLDER PEOPLE GET?
Juvenile means young, so this means that JIA is different from the arthritis that adults get. Kids can have many different types of arthritis, but JIA is the most common.
Many problems can cause pain and swelling of the joints, so a doctor will want to know how long these problems have been going on.
To be considered JIA, the joints must have swelling and pain for at least 6 weeks.
DOES JIA GO AWAY?
Sometimes the symptoms just go away with treatment, which is known as remission. Remission may last for months, years, or a person's lifetime. In fact, many teens with JIA eventually enter full remission with little or no permanent joint damage.
Besides taking medicines, a kid can do a few things to help with the symptoms of JIA:
Keep joints warm and stay active.
Take warm baths, which can make a kid's joints hurt less.
Use an electric blanket on a timer that turns on 1 hour before a kid wakes up, which can help warm the joints and help a kid move better.
Some kids dip their hands in a special warm wax called paraffin that helps their joints ache less.