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Goshen, N.Y. – Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus and Health Commissioner Dr. Irina Gelman are raising awareness about Juvenile Arthritis, which affects approximately 300,000 children nationwide, making it one of the most common childhood diseases in the United States.
July is Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month.
“Childhood arthritis affects children of all ages and backgrounds,” Neuhaus said. “It is important for parents to be aware of the signs and symptoms, and to discuss them with their child’s doctor because, although most children with arthritis lead normal lives, it can cause permanent physical damage to joints.”
The most common type of childhood arthritis is juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), also known as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Although there is no cure, some children with arthritis achieve permanent remission, which means the disease is no longer active, although any damage to joints would remain. Childhood arthritis is diagnosed through a physical examination and review of symptoms, X-rays, and lab tests. A doctor should make this diagnosis, particularly a rheumatologist who specializes in arthritis and other related conditions in children.
Dr. Gelman explained that symptoms may come and go over time. Signs and symptoms include:
• Joint pain
• Fatigue (tiredness).
• Loss of appetite.
• Inflammation of the eye.
• Difficulty with daily living activities such as walking, dressing, and playing.
“The exact cause of childhood arthritis is unknown. The immune system may not work properly which causes the inflammation in the joints and other body systems. Dietary and emotional factors do not appear to play a role in the development of Juvenile Arthritis. There is no cure for JIA but with prompt diagnosis and early aggressive treatment, remission is possible. The goal of treatment is to relieve inflammation, control pain and improve quality of life.”
Additional information regarding Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis can be found at www.cdc.org and www.arthritis.org.