Arthritis tends to be an adult condition. When this chronic disease that affects the joints and that can also damage other organs occurs in children under 16 years old they are said to have juvenile arthritis. In this regard, recent research has found that the cancer rate among children suffering from this condition is four times higher than in other children.
The rheumatoid arthritis , juvenile or simply juvenile arthritis is a condition that, as adults with this disease, can cause inflammation in children and stiffness in the joints and sometimes decrease in their movements. It can affect any joint and in some cases, it can also damage internal organs. That is why it can affect the growth and development of children who suffer from it. It can be acute (lasting weeks) or chronic (lasting months). It is rare for children to last a lifetime, although it happens very occasionally.
As if that were not enough, a recent study has found that children suffering from juvenile arthritis are more likely to develop cancer.
This would not necessarily be related to the medications used to treat joint disease, such as tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors, which carry a “black box” warning about the potential risks associated with these drugs.
In detail, this research, which was published in the February 13 online edition of the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism, indicates that the cancer rate among children suffering from juvenile arthritis is four times higher than among other children.
To reach these findings, scientists from the University of Alabama in Birmingham, in the United States, analyzed data on children under Medicaid coverage of which: 7,800 children had juvenile arthritis and compared them with two groups: about 650,000 children with asthma and almost 322 thousand children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The study was conducted between 2000 and 2005.
These results represent an approach to understand this disease, but the same researchers warn that it is still necessary to have new large-scale and long-term findings about the association between cancer, juvenile arthritis and its treatment.
According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States (CDC) in 2008, one in every 250 children in that country had some type of arthritis. The study data also indicated that arthritis and other rheumatic conditions represent about 827 thousand medical consultations per year and an average of 83 thousand visits to the emergency rooms.
While the precise cause of juvenile arthritis is unknown, which begins before the age of 16 and may last several years but not necessarily throughout life, it is thought to be an autoimmune disorder, that is, the body’s defense system it confuses and attacks some of its own tissues as if it were an external invader, for example a virus or a bacterium.
In the case of arthritis, it affects the joints and can also damage other organs. Be the damage that causes five basic types of juvenile arthritis are distinguished:
- Oligoarthritis: it represents about 50% of cases, affects less than five joints and includes inflammation in the eyes.
- Polyarthritis: affects 5 or more joints.
- Systemic arthritis: it represents 10 to 20 percent of cases and, in addition to arthritis, it is characterized by high fever, rash (rash) and inflammation of other organs.
- Enthesitis-related arthritis: it usually affects the spine, hips and insertion points of tendons in the bones (called braces). This type occurs mainly in men over 8 years of age.
- Psoriatic arthritis: when arthritis occurs in children along with the eruption of psoriasis.
If your child has inflammation (swelling), pain and stiffness in a joint, such as the knees, hands or feet, which do not go away over time and are stronger in the morning or after nap, you may have juvenile arthritis. Do not let time pass, nor your doubts. Consult with your doctor to define the diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Remember that in addition to helping you improve pain, juvenile arthritis can destroy the joint and alter its growth. Timely treatment can help prevent and / or limit damage. The specialist for the treatment of arthritis is the rheumatologist. The rheumatologist works as a team with the pediatrician and the physiotherapist (who gives the physical therapy) to determine the best treatment.