Hesperian Health Guides

Chapter 16: Juvenile Arthritis: Chronic Arthritis in Children

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HealthWiki > Disabled Village Children > Chapter 16: Juvenile Arthritis: Chronic Arthritis in Children


How to Recognize It?
  • The arthritis (joint pain) often begins between the ages of 5 and 10, but may begin in very young children or teenagers.
  • Usually it keeps getting worse for several years.
  • There are times when the pain and other signs get better, and times when they get worse.
  • It affects different children in different ways. It can be mild or very disabling.
Signs


JOINTS THAT MAY BE AFFECTED
First, these joints Later, these joints
wrist, knee, and ankle joints
neck, shoulder, back, elbow, hip joints
  • Joint pain. Often begins in the knees, ankles, and wrists. Later it affects the neck, fingers, toes, elbows, and shoulders. Still later, the hips and back may be affected.
  • Joints are especially painful and stiff in the morning (morning stiffness).
  • Fevers and rash that come and go. (In some children these are the first signs.)
  • The knees become large and may turn inward.
  • Pain may make it difficult to straighten the knees, hips, and other joints. The cords may tighten, forming contractures, and the bones may gradually become dislocated.
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A child with severe arthritis often sits with his arms and legs bent in the least painful position. Without exercise and good positioning, contractures may form so that he cannot walk or even stand up. Children with severe arthritis in the neck and jaw may have a small, short chin.
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Contractures may develop in the fingers or toes, and with time the bones may fuse (stick together).
The fingers become very thin and deformed, or thick, with slender tips. Wrists and ankles may become stiff and bent.


This page was updated:19 Jan 2018