Does My Child Have Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis...Or Something Else?

Misdiagnosis.

It’s a word patients living with chronic illness are all too familiar with. Did you know that an American Autoimmune Related Disease Association (AARDA) survey of its members found that it takes nearly five years for the average autoimmune patient to receive a proper diagnosis.

In the age of “Dr. Google”, patients and caregivers are taking control of their own health and bringing research to their doctors...sometimes even diagnosing themselves.

We’ve had the opportunity to interact with countless arthritis patient leaders who have done just that. But when it comes to children living with arthritis, it is usually their parents who need to be their advocate, their champion. Here at Clara, we want to make sure we are not only providing resources for adult patients living with arthritis, but young patients and their parents too!

Most people are shocked to learn that kids get arthritis in the first place, so awareness is of paramount importance. But did you know that what looks like arthritis can actually be one of several other pediatric diseases?  While JIA, or juvenile idiopathic arthritis, is the most common type of arthritis in children, it is important to be aware of some of the other diseases that may look like be misdiagnosed as arthritis in kids.

We’ve compiled a list featuring some of the other pediatric conditions we’ve learned about where arthritis is a primary symptom or common misdiagnosis. After all, if you’re reading this article, maybe you have a gut feeling something else could be going, on, and we want to help keep you in the know!

In the age of “Dr. Google”, patients and caregivers are taking control of their own health and bringing research to their doctors...sometimes even diagnosing themselves.

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Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA): As we said, this is the most common type of arthritis in kids. Common symptoms include joint pain, swelling, fever and rash, among others. There are 6 subtypes of JIA including systemic JIA, oligoarticular JIA, polyarticular JIA, juvenile psoriatic arthritis, enthesitis-related JIA, and undifferentiated arthritis. JIA includes several types of arthritis previously known as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA).

Juvenile lupus: Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can impact the skin, joints, kidneys, lungs, nervous system, and other organs of the body. Common symptoms include fever, fatigue, weight loss, arthritis/joint pain, “butterfly rash” on the cheeks and bridge of nose, seizures, kidney problems, fluid around the heart or lungs, or issues with blood, to name a few.

Farber disease: This is a rare, metabolic disease that usually has three hallmark symptoms that appear in childhood: joint pain or contracturespainful and swollen joints, bumps (nodules) under the skin, and an increasingly hoarse or weak voice. Symptoms can appear at any age in any order. They can also vary in severity and how quickly they progress, making it hard to diagnose.

Juvenile ankylosing spondylitis: This is a type of arthritis that impacts the spine and locations where muscles, tendons, and ligaments are connect to the bone. Symptoms include, but are not limited to, pain in the back, joints, buttocks, thighs, heels, or shoulders, fatigue, difficulty standing up straight, and eye pain.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): IBD includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis and may present with one or more of the following symptoms: diarrhea, fever, fatigue, abdominal pain, and weight loss. According to the National Institutes of Health, roughly 25% of children living with IBD experience symptoms outside of their intestinal tract including joint pain.

Taking care of a healthy child is a full time job all on its own. Add in a chronic illness and you have your hands full!

Team Clara is dedicated to helping ease stress and support patients and caregivers, particularly through their clinical trial journey. If we can be of help through this process, or if we can point you in the right direction if you are looking for alternative resources, please do give us a shout!


*Please note that this is not a comprehensive list and any medical decisions and diagnoses should be made by your child’s physician. You should never change or start medical treatment without consulting your physician. The information provided by Clara Health and its partners does not constitute medical advice.

Sources: 

"Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis" , The Nemours Foundation 

"Types of Juvenile Arthritis", The Arthritis Foundation 
"Conditions That Mimic Rheumatoid Arthritis" HealthCentral

This is a sponsored post.

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Lilly Stairs is an autoimmune patient and the Head of Patient Advocacy at Clara.