In the US, July is Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month. Arthritis in the UK is very common and is something that most people will have heard of, but what exactly is it?
Put simply, arthritis refers to the inflammation of joints. Juvenile arthritis refers to arthritis in children who are 16 or younger. Although most people only recognise arthritis as something adults suffer from, the condition is much more common among children than you may think.
What causes arthritis to occur in children is often unknown, but there is some evidence to suggest genetics play a part in it. Unfortunately there isn’t a cure for the illness, and most treatment options work towards creating ways to cope with it.
In the UK alone around 15,000 children are affected by the illness, although some NHS research suggests that the symptoms of juvenile arthritis improve over time, resulting in a more normal life for the child. Many of the options for treatment include painkillers, physiotherapy and exercise, and in extreme cases, surgery.
In the majority of cases, the severity of juvenile arthritis improves. Although this is not always the case, there are different treatment options for when it does not change. Some cases result in the need for joint replacement surgery as the condition can affect day-to-day life.
The more important thing to sustain when caring for someone with juvenile arthritis is a positive outlook. Understanding the condition and having a team of support from doctors, teachers, friends and family is a great help when supporting a child living with arthritis.
The aim of Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month is to do just that: raise awareness. Most associate arthritis with adults and the elderly, so for those who suffer from it, it’s important to know they’re not alone.