Bengaluru: While people of all age groups are vulnerable to arthritis, there is a common misconception that it cannot affect children and this often leads to delayed diagnosis and other health complications like joint deformities.
Arthritis is more prevalent among children than other diseases such as diabetes, AIDS and cancer.
It is affecting over 180 million people in the country, while juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, also known as juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) is the most common type found in children under the age group of 16. The common symptoms of arthritis are pain and swelling in the joints, shortage of red blood cells, generally inactive behaviour, rashes on the skin. It also affects the nervous system.
Dr Raghunath, a pediatrician at Sagar Hospitals, said, “JIA is the most common rheumatic disease among children and its cause is largely unknown. Worldwide incidence of JIA ranges from 0.8 -22.6/100,000 children per year, but its prevalence in India is much higher at 1.25 per 1,000 children.”
It is most commonly seen in children who are predisposed to the disease. Although genetics is a major factor for this problem, it is most commonly caused due to an anti-immune disorder. “This happens when a child is down with a sore throat, flu or an illness for a long time. The immune system fails to differentiate between the virus and the cells produced by the body, and hence begins to act against the body itself. This disorder brings down the amount of synovial fluid (which is responsible for the lubrication of the joints), leading to arthritis among children,” said Dr Ravi Kumar R., Consultant Orthopedic and Joint Replacement Surgeon SPARSH Hospitals. Dr Anupama Kumar, MRC–Rheumatology at Sagar Hospitals, also said that the awareness about the disease among the general public remains low. “It is a treatable condition though not curable.
But it is important to treat it to prevent complications like joint deformities and stunting of growth in the future and help the affected children reach their full potential,” she added....