Arthritis can strike people at any age, with those age 65 and older among the common victims. However, young adults and young children can be afflicted by the crippling disease. Arthritis causes joint inflammation, pain, stiffness and swelling that disrupts the daily lives of sufferers.
Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, often affects the hands, fingers, hips, spine, knees, ankles and feet, but can creep into all areas of the body. Rheumatoid arthritis affects the joints and also damages the immune system, even affecting the lungs, heart and blood. There are some 200 types of arthritis, including gout and fibromyalgia.
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About one in every 250 children in the United States has some form of arthritis with an estimated 294,000 younger than age 18 stricken by the disease, according to Medical News Today
. Many people don’t think of children getting the crippling disorder because the risk of acquiring the disease increases as people get older with the wear and tear of the joints over the years.
Childhood arthritis covers a variety of disorders for children younger than age 16, writes Hannah Nichols in Medical News Today. Common classifications include juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile chronic arthritis, and juvenile idiopathic arthritis, which can also cause fevers, rash and eye inflammation. Rheumatoid arthritis appears to be the most common arthritic condition for children. However, children can suffer from any of the forms of arthritis that strike adults.
Young arthritis victims account for estimated costs of $285 million nationally with some 827,000 doctor visits a year for children and about 83,000 emergency room visits due to arthritis conditions, Nichols points out.
The cause of arthritis in young people is not known, but genetics may have a role in many cases. As with all forms of arthritis, there is no cure for juvenile arthritis, but treatment can relieve inflammation, pain and improve a child’s quality of life as much as possible, according to the Arthritis Foundation
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The best treatment involves teaching the child how to self-manage symptoms while also dealing with the emotional and social effects from the disease. Medication to relieve symptoms, physical activity to improve flexibility, a healthy diet and eye care are among the treatment plans for young people with arthritis.
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