Rheumatologists say children and young adults under the age of 16 years can develop arthritis.
Indeed, experts say one in 10 arthritis patients is a child.
According to experts, the most common type of childhood arthritis is juvenile idiopathic arthritis, also known as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.
They note that childhood arthritis can cause permanent physical damage to joints.
This damage can make it hard for the child to do everyday things like walking or dressing and can result in disability.
This experience, experts say, iscontrary to what most people believe that arthritis only afflicts the elderly.
Physicians, however, say arthritis can be easily managed with proper treatment and a healthy lifestyle.
A Consultant Rheumatologist at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, Dr. Hakeem Olaosebikan, noted said the causes of arthritis in children are not generally known, but may be due to exaggerated immune systems as seen in lupus and juvenile idiopathic arthritis.
Olaosebikan said the symptoms of arthritis in children include painful swollen joints, limping, and inability to walk.
He added that sometimes, such patients may have rashes, fever, and their internal organs and eyes can be affected.
Olaosebikan said children with arthritis experience functional impairment due to pain, swelling of joints, stiffness, and contractures.
“Arthritis can cause leg pain. Arthritis is pain, swelling, and stiffness that originate from joints and this can extend to the surrounding parts of the body, including the legs.
“Arthritis due to autoimmune disease can’t be outgrown. The patient can, however, be treated and managed with effective drugs.
“There are effective drugs for treatment and management. Physiotherapy is also important in the management of such children.
“Unfortunately, there are no preventive methods because the immune proteins for getting this disease are usually inherited from parents,” he said.
Adding, he said if the condition is left undiagnosed and untreated, it can lead to joint deformities, disability, blindness, and organ failures.
“Arthritis in children is usually not serious if diagnosed and treated early.
“However, if untreated and undiagnosed, complications are joint deformities, disability, blindness, and organ failures.
“The diagnosis of arthritis in children is by the combination of swollen and painful joints and blood tests, including X-rays of the joints and ultrasounds.
“The blood tests are full blood counts, erythrocytes sedimentation rates, C-reactive protein, antinuclear antibody, rheumatoid factors, and other genetic-based tests,” he said.
Speaking on his clinical experience, Olaosebikan said one in 10 patients with arthritis is likely to be kids.
According to him, there are seven types of arthritis in children, based on the number of joints involved and the pattern of joint involvement.
“These include polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis, oligoarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis, systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis, among others.
“There’s no cure for juvenile idiopathic arthritis, but there are many treatments including medication, physiotherapy that can help slow it down,” he noted.