Grown-up Info Here!
How Can We Treat It?
There are a couple different kinds of arthritis: osteoarthritis is the kind that people get when they get older and their joints start wearing out. Rheumatoid or idiopathic arthritis is the kind that anyone can get, including children. Your body’s immune system is its defense against germs and usually helps you get better when you are sick by fighting off the bad cells. But if you have juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) your body is confused and thinks that its own cells are bad cells so it fights against them to get rid of them. This causes inflammation, which is what makes your joints hurt and get hot and swollen.
The medicines that you might take help slow down your immune system so that it doesn’t keep attacking your own cells. Since your immune system is usually there to fight off bad cells that make you sick, being on medicines for arthritis that slow down your immune system can sometimes mean that you can get sick more easily. That is why it is important to take good care of yourself and get lots of sleep so that you can stay healthy!
There are different kinds of JIA that can affect either only some joints or the whole body. Some people might only have two or three joints that are affected, other people might have pain in most of their joints. Some children also have JIA in their whole body and might get fevers or rashes on their skin. About 300,000 children in the United States have a form of juvenile arthritis, but outside of the arthritis community it is not well known. This means that your friends, family members, teachers or coaches might not know what JIA is and you might have to explain it to them. Some people might not understand what you are experiencing or might forget that there are things that are harder for you to do, but most people are very supportive and understanding.