Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis Relief Naturally
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) and related forms of juvenile arthritis affects nearly 300,000 children in the U.S. according to a government study. Natural dietary and herbal supplements have a tremendous attraction for people who are frustrated with the arthritis solutions offered by conventional medicine, according to the Arthritis Foundation.
Most parents realize there’s no magic cure, they’re simply seeking better relief of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. They hope these symptoms will be better controlled if they try a supplement or herbal extract in addition to their formally prescribed drug medication.
There are no conclusive studies linked to the effectiveness of dietary supplements in treatment for juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Nonetheless, many people eagerly pursue plant and herbal alternatives because of a belief that they’re safe when compared to the side effects of drugs. My husband and I both have arthritis and have been effectively using natural dietary supplements in lieu of drug therapy. Of course, our osteoarthritis is not the same as rheumatoid arthritis or juvenile RA. But most types of arthritis are treated at the outset with the same basic non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)--the same ones that we were able to reduce, then replace completely.
What is juvenile rheumatoid arthritis?
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is a type of childhood arthritis that happens in children age 16 or younger. It’s also called juvenile idiopathic arthritis or Still’s Disease, according to the U.S. Government’s National Institutes of Health (NIH). It can affect any joint and in less frequent cases internal organs as well.
The main difference between juvenile and adult rheumatoid arthritis is that more than half of all JRA children outgrow the illness, while adults usually have lifelong symptoms, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease.
Another difference is the rheumatoid factor (RF), an antibody found in the blood of many people with RA. The Yale University School of Medicine Patient’s Guide to Medical Tests shows up to 80 percent of adults with RA have signs of RF, but less than 50 percent of JRA children are RF positive. Presence of the RF factor means there’s an increased chance that JRA will continue into adulthood.
What is the cause of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis?
No one knows for sure what causes juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. A number of different explanations have been offered to explain the onset of JRA. There does seem to be a genetic link, based on the fact that the tendency to develop JRA sometimes runs in particular families, and based on the fact that certain genetic markers are more frequently found in patients with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and other related diseases.
Research has shown that several autoimmune diseases, including JRA, share a common genetic link. In other words, patients with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis might share common genes with family members who have other autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus, multiple sclerosis, and others.
Researchers have also looked for an infectious cause for JRA, but no clear connection to a particular organism has ever been established. Some consider juvenile rheumatoid arthritis as an autoimmune disease, a disorder in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own tissues as if they were foreign. The body tries to eliminate the invader (such as it does with bacteria, virus, or fungi).
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis prevalence
A study published in the December, 2007 issue of Arthritis Care & Research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates one in 250 U.S. children (294,000) has been diagnosed with arthritis or another rheumatologic condition.
The study is the first national data-based estimate for children under age 18. The study was prompted by the Arthritis Prevention, Control, and Cure Act of 2004 which called for better determining the size of childhood arthritis problem.
The results provide for the first time a national data-based estimate of the number of arthritis-diagnosed children across the United States and within each state, creating a benchmark to measure future shifts in occurrence
Joint inflammation is the common symptom for all childhood arthritis
The American College of Rheumatology defines juvenile rheumatoid arthritis as a chronic condition that causes inflammation in one or more joints and begins before the age of 16.
The symptoms usually include joint swelling, reduced flexibility or motion from stiffness. According to the NIH, an early sign of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis may be limping in the morning, and this can appear and disappear. Some children have one or two flare-ups, others have continual symptoms. In severe instances, growth problems are noted in some children.
The most common symptom overall is persistent joint swelling, pain, and stiffness typically worse in the morning or after a nap. Many younger children don’t complain of pain, but this doesn’t mean they don’t have pain.
There are several different symptom patterns of arthritis in children. Though all have joint inflammation in common, they behave very differently and may require different treatment approaches.
Symptoms lead to diagnosis for one of three major JRA types
According to the Arthritis Foundation, there is no single test to diagnose juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. The diagnosis is made when there has been persistent arthritis in one or more joints for at least 6 weeks after other possible illnesses have been ruled out.
Sometimes, a variety of tests may be necessary to arrive at a firm diagnosis. Laboratory tests often show normal results. As with any chronic disease, anemia may be noted.
Once your child's physician suspects or makes this diagnosis, your child may be referred to a pediatric rheumatologist, a physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of children with arthritis and arthritis-related conditions.
The type of juvenile arthritis is usually determined based on the symptoms your child has had during the first 6 months of the illness. The 3 major types of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis are:
Exercise and diet are effective for symptom relief
Resistance exercise is one of the best natural therapies for juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, according to a 1999 study at the University of Buffalo in New York. In the eight-week study, children did lower-body exercises for three one-hour sessions weekly. In just two months, the children had a 40-60% increase in muscle strength, speed, and endurance. The less fit the child was at the beginning, the more improvement was shown. In the same study, pain was reduced by 50 percent and medication use was cut by 25 percent.
In a related study, researchers found exercise decreased inflammatory agents while increasing anti-inflammatory compounds in the body, thereby improving immune function of arthritis in children.
A strict vegetarian diet is also believed to play a role in treating juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. This type of diet is low in fats. Elimination of wheat may also be helpful, as well as a allergy elimination diet. A number of autoimmune disorders, including JRA, seem to have a relationship to food allergies, so identification and elimination of reactive foods may result in a decrease in juvenile rheumatoid arthritis symptom
Treatment of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
Several types of medication are available to treat juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, including: