Juvenile rheumatic diseases include over 100 different rheumatic diseases which may affect children. These diseases may cause pain, stiffness, and swelling in joints as well as in muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, and skin. Juvenile rheumatic diseases include juvenile idiopathic arthritis (including juvenile rheumatoid arthritis), juvenile spondyloarthritis, periodic fever syndromes, juvenile psoriatic arthritis, juvenile dermatomyositis, juvenile systemic lupus erythematosus, juvenile vasculitis, juvenile sclerodermas and mixed connective tissue disease.
In children, arthritis, periodic fever syndromes, or other rheumatic diseases can be difficult to diagnose and challenging to treat. Some children experience swollen, painful, or stiff joints. Other common symptoms include skin rashes, weak muscles, fevers, and swollen glands. Children with arthritis and rheumatic diseases may have many disease-related challenges such as pain, disability, growth problems, and difficulty with school and social interactions. Juvenile rheumatic diseases affect each child differently. The causes of juvenile rheumatic diseases are for the most part unknown. For many juvenile rheumatic diseases, there is no single diagnostic test, but a number of fever diseases can be diagnosed with a genetic test. Doctors and medical researchers are learning more about how to treat and prevent juvenile rheumatic diseases.
Although at present there are no cures for juvenile rheumatic diseases, there are treatment and management options available. Depending on the type of juvenile rheumatic disease, treatment may include medication, physical therapy, occupational therapy, psychiatric therapy and pain management. Since research is ongoing, it is best to talk to your child’s specialist (often a pediatric rheumatologist) about the most current treatment options. Support organizations are also a good resource of information and will help connect you with other families.