July 17, 2023
Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month: Understanding the Link Between Lupus and Arthritis in Children and Teens
As we observe Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month, it’s important to shed light on the connection between lupus and arthritis in children and teenagers. Juvenile arthritis, a chronic condition characterized by joint inflammation, affects thousands of young individuals worldwide. In some cases, lupus, an autoimmune disease, can coexist with juvenile arthritis, presenting unique challenges for young patients. In this blog post, we will explore the symptoms of juvenile arthritis, discuss the connection between lupus and arthritis, and emphasize the importance of raising awareness for these conditions.
Understanding Juvenile Arthritis:
Juvenile arthritis refers to a group of autoimmune and inflammatory conditions that cause joint pain, swelling, and stiffness in children and adolescents under the age of 16. It is a chronic condition that can have a significant impact on a child’s quality of life, including physical activity, academic performance, and social interactions. While there are several types of juvenile arthritis, the most common forms include juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), and juvenile dermatomyositis (JDM).
Symptoms of Juvenile Arthritis:
The symptoms of juvenile arthritis may vary from child to child. Here are some common signs to watch for:
The Connection Between Lupus and Arthritis:
Lupus is not a form of arthritis, but it does include arthritis as one of the most common symptoms. However, lupus is different from any other illness that causes arthritis. During the course of their disease, approximately 95% of lupus patients will have joint symptoms − either arthritis or arthralgias. Arthritis in lupus is due to inflammation of the lining of the joint (called synovitis) that leads to swelling, tenderness, and stiffness. Arthralgia refers to joint pain without swelling.
Lupus can coexist with juvenile arthritis. Lupus is characterized by an overactive immune system that mistakenly attacks healthy tissues and organs, resulting in inflammation and damage. When lupus and arthritis occur together, joint inflammation and pain become more prevalent, often impacting multiple joints and causing additional complications.
It is important to note that while lupus arthritis and juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) share similar symptoms, they are distinct conditions. Lupus arthritis tends to affect smaller joints, such as those in the hands and feet, while JIA typically involves larger joints, such as the knees and hips.
Raising Awareness and Offering Support:
Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month serves as a vital platform to raise awareness about the challenges faced by children and teenagers living with arthritis, including those with lupus. By spreading knowledge, we can promote early detection, timely treatment, and provide support to affected individuals and their families.
If your child exhibits symptoms of juvenile arthritis, consult with a pediatric rheumatologist for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan. Early intervention and ongoing care are crucial for managing symptoms, minimizing joint damage, and improving overall quality of life.
If you have questions about a pediatric rheumatology referral, please contact the Lupus LA team at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re here to help!