Arthritis has always been known as a disease that affects older folks, more specifically those who are older than 50 years old. This illness is a pediatric rheumatic disease and describes an autoimmune and inflammatory condition that has symptoms of pain, joint swelling, redness and warmth. (Source: Arthritis Foundation) Newsflash though: arthritis also affects children! Many people are not aware of this fact, but Juvenile Arthritis is a very real thing, and affects nearly 300,000 children in the United States, and awareness on the illness needs to be brought! (Source: Arthritis Foundation)
Yes, you read that right. Juvenile Arthritis (JA). As I said before, it affects hundreds of thousands of children in the U.S. alone, so this is far from an older person’s disease, and organizations like the Arthritis Foundation and Arthritis National Research Foundation are working hard to spread awareness on the disease.
Who knew that there are actually many different types of juvenile arthritis? Besides the typical arthritis symptoms, JA is distinct and has its own unique concerns and symptoms. Some types of JA affect the musculoskeletal system, and can involve the eyes, skin, muscles and gastrointestinal tract. (Source: Arthritis Foundation) Here are the different types of JA according to the Arthritis Foundation:
- Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) – Most common
- Juvenile dermatomyositis – Inflammatory disease & muscle weakness as well as skin rashes on eyelids and knuckles
- Juvenile lupus – Affects skin, joints, kidneys blood & other areas
- Juvenile scleroderma – Means “hard skin”, where skin gets tight and hard
- Kawasaki disease – Blood vessel inflammation that can cause heart issues
- Mixed connective tissue disease – A combination of arthritis, lupus, dermatomyositis and scleroderma.
- Fibromyalgia –This chronic pain syndrome is arthritis related, and causes stiffness, achiness, fatigue, or disruptive sleep.According to the Arthritis Foundation, there are no known causes for JA, neither is their evidence that correlates the illness to toxins, foods or allergies. It is believed that children may get JA from the genes they get from their parents.
How to Raise Awareness
The Arthritis Foundation has some campaigns set up designed to help raise awareness on JA, and to also make it easier for others to do the same. They have created a platform where those who have or have friends or family with JA can share or read stories to the world and tell about their fight. They have created a hash tag symbol “#StrongerThanJA”, designed to connect everyone who has a story or wants to find stories on the illness successfully find or share support. You can even find a spot on their website to see all types of stories that others have already posted.
The Arthritis National Research Foundation (ANRF) has also set up campaigns to spread awareness. They provide clickable links that connect right to your social media accounts and share content in an instant, and they produce t shirts and donation opportunities for those who want to donate money to the cause. Additionally, they host a “Virtual Strides” event, where advocates can run, walk or roll for the cause and participate in a race!
What Will you Do?
The word needs to be spread about Juvenile Arthritis. Fortunately, there are organizations who make this process easy, by creating platforms for others to learn and share. This will help those who live with the illness live in a world where their peers are better informed and more understanding of their experience. Get out there and help spread awareness about Juvenile Arthritis today!