Does your child complain about joint pains? If yes he/she might be suffering from juvenile arthritis (JA), which is also known as paediatric rheumatic disease.
Dr Pradeep Mahjan, Regenerative medicine researcher from StemRx gives us more insights about this disease.
Here are the top things to know about this ailment:
1. Children less than 16 years of age can get affected by this disease and even infant can be prone to it six months after birth. It is a chronic inflammatory condition which can impact one or more joints.This disease affects approximately 1 in 1,000 children in any given year with about 1 in 10,000 taking a severe condition.
2. Several types of arthritis are included in Juvenile arthritis which young individuals and children get diagnosed with. It is difficult to identify the initial symptoms as they may not show arthritic pathology. Presently, there is no diagnostic test available.
3. Low red blood cell (RBC) count and raised white blood cell (WBC) count might show up in haematological investigations in individuals, but these findings don't characterise juvenile arthritis. This condition is usually diagnosed only at advanced stages when joint inflammation becomes visible.
4. The criteria for diagnosis include onset before the age of 16, persistent, objective arthritis in 1 or more joints for at least 6 weeks, and exclusion of other potential causes of childhood arthritis.
5. The symptoms and causes include repeating fever, intermittent rash etc. Stiffness in joints especially during morning, difficulty in performing the basic motor activities, etc are other symptoms individuals portray. Joint swelling might appear after months or years of onset of symptoms and systemic inflammation. JA can also impact the child psychologically, in mild cases however, symptoms may not progress into adulthood and quality of life may remain unaffected.
6. Immune system dysfunction has been implicated as a cause of JA. Genetic predisposition has been suggested as a factor, but the condition develops only after exposure to an infection or other triggers. Synovial membrane, which is the lining of joints is targeted by the malfunctioning immune system. The end result of the pathogenic process is joint inflammation and destruction.
7. Conventional treatment for JA involves use of anti-inflammatory medications and physiotherapy rehabilitation. These agents aid in temporarily alleviating an individual of symptoms, but do not halt progression of the disease. Disease modifying anti-rheumatoid drugs or agents, steroids may also be advised, however may be associated with adverse effects when used for long durations.
There is no definite cause that has been implicated in disease pathogenesis. Therefore, prevention of the condition, currently, is not possible. Early identification of symptoms may aid in diagnosing the condition and planning appropriate interventions to limit disability.
8. In recent years, regenerative medicine and cellular therapy have shown effectiveness in treatment of conditions which were previously thought to be untreatable. Cellular therapy aims to enhance the human body's reparative mechanisms to treat various conditions. Mesenchymal stem cells have anti-inflammatory, immune-modulatory and tissue repairing properties which are effective in treating arthritic pathology. Source of mesenchymal stem cells may be autologous (from one's own body) or allogeneic. In addition, T cells which possess the ability to regulate or modulate the immune system may also be effective in treating JA.
9. Lifestyle and dietary modifications play an important role in autoimmune conditions as these are associated with modulating the core pathology of the disease. Moderate intensity exercises, swimming etc. can aid in maintaining strength of muscle groups and preventing disability. Additionally, maternal or paternal screening for presence of autoimmune antibodies is imperative in identifying possible manifestation of the condition in children.
10. According to Dr Pradeep Mahjan, arthritis, apart from being an autoimmune condition, is also associated with our way of life. Sedentary lifestyle habits, improper dietary practices cause the condition to progress at a more rapid and severe rate. It is therefore important to follow a disciplined lifestyle along with regular monitoring of health in order to identify the condition at the earliest and plan appropriate interventions.