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Doctor Shortage Adds to Pain of Juvenile Arthritis
Date:12/23/2010

0 percent of children with the disease have this type, girls more often than boys. It most often affects the knees, wrists and ankles but also can affect other joints such as the hips, neck, shoulders and jaw.
  • Systemic onset juvenile arthritis causes inflammation throughout the body. The child typically suffers from swelling, pain and limited motion in at least one joint, and the disease very often affects the small joints of the hands, wrists, knees and ankles. Internal organs such as the heart, liver and spleen as well as lymph nodes also may become inflamed, and children can develop rashes and fevers of 102 degrees or higher for weeks at a time. About 20 percent of children with juvenile arthritis develop this type, and it affects boys and girls equally.
  • Any child younger than 18 can develop juvenile arthritis, but there tend to be two age ranges when it's more likely to occur. There's one peak at ages 2 to 4, followed by another peak at ages 8 to 12, said Dr. Harry Gewanter, a pediatric rheumatologist with Pediatric and Adolescent Health Partners in Richmond, Va., and a clinical associate professor of pediatrics and physical medicine and rehabilitation at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine.

    "Their hallmark is you have a chronic arthritis that lasts at least six weeks in one or more joints," Gewanter said. "Lots of kids will have problems with their joints that come and go for a variety of reasons, but there are very few things that are going to stick around besides something like this."

    It can be difficult for parents to know there's something wrong with their child, however, because kids lack the ability to communicate pain effectively, White said. Most of the time, kids with juvenile arthritis have a limp, but parents generally think that the child hurt a leg or knee.

    Parents should suspect juvenile arthritis if they notice the child limping more in the morning or after a nap; that's because the j
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