Skip to main content

Juvenile arthritis can strike at any age

Aug 01, 2016 12:23PM, Published by Today's Family, Categories: Health Cleveland Clinic, Health



People often believe that arthritis is a condition that only affects seniors. However, the truth is that like diabetes it can be diagnosed in people under 50, even children. Particularly troublesome is rheumatoid arthritis which can strike at any age. “Rheumatoid arthritis is an aggressive, destructive disease that attacks your joints and tissues like they are foreign bodies and it comes with pain, stiffness and other symptoms that bring down your quality of life,” said Dr. Scott Burg, department of rheumatologic and immunologic disease at the Cleveland Clinic.

The bright side of the story is that rheumatoid arthritis is highly treatable.

The most prevalent form of arthritis, osteoarthritis, often comes along with aging but that is not the case with rheumatoid arthritis. “Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder and you do not get it from regular wear and tear on your body; your body’s attack on itself results in inflammation which causes pain, stiffness, swelling and other symptoms that may affect other organs,” said Burg.

There is reason to be hopeful. Since the signs are easy to identify, you can see a doctor early and have an examination and x-rays to confirm the diagnosis. “Telltale signs are if your pain is symmetrical meaning in both shoulders, both elbows or both wrists; and if your stiffness lasts longer than 30 minutes and the morning,” said Dr. Burg.

Juvenile arthritis is the umbrella term that refers to the numerous autoimmune and inflammatory conditions that can occur in kids under age 16. While it usually affects joints, the eyes, skin and gastrointestinal tract can be affected as well. To be diagnosed, a child simply needs to have swelling in one or more joints for at least six weeks. The cause remains unidentified and the Arthritis Foundation said that there is no evidence to suggest that toxins, foods or allergies cause children to develop the disease. Some research hints at a genetic predisposition.

The key is to stick to your child’s regular routine as much as possible. You will find that arthritis affects the entire family and you should empathize with your child’s emotions as he navigates the diagnosis with you.

The pediatrician will likely refer you to a pediatric rheumatologist who will ask questions about your child’s health history to find out how long the symptoms have been present. There is no blood test for arthritis, only a physical exam and medical history to provide insight. Imaging tests may be done to rule out other possible causes for symptoms and blood work may help rule out underlying infection.

Though there is no cure, there is a lot that can be offered. The Arthritis Foundation said that most treatment plans involve a combination of medication, physical activity, eye care and healthy eating. If you reach out, you will find that there are a lot of resources in the community to guide you as well.

Research has led to a lot of remedies. “We probably can do more for our patients with rheumatoid than we can for every other type of arthritis,” said Dr. Burg. Many medications are available. “Methotrexate works by counteracting the immune system’s attack on your joints; TNF inhibitors block the compound that does damage; and corticosteroid injections ease symptoms in a lot of patients,” said Burg. You can expect the doctor to monitor you closely. “The advances of recent years amaze me and we can put the disease into remission in most patients and sometimes even reverse the damage that has already been done,” said Dr. Burg.

Tiny modifications can make daily living with arthritis easier for all ages. Start with your kitchen. “Pots and pans with soft grips and longer handles may ease the process and if you have trouble handling silverware, adaptive utensils with thicker handles make it easier to enjoy your home-cooked meals,” said Dr. Burg. Elevating your seat to add height can be helpful. Then look at your bathroom. “Electric toothbrushes have fatter, easier-to-grip handles than traditional ones and also do much of the brushing work for you,” said Dr. Burg. For the shower, liquid soap is easier to use than bars and you can even add an automatic dispenser to the shower.

There is a Walk to Cure Arthritis at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo on May 9, 2015 at 9 a.m. This signature event entails a 3-mile and 1-mile course with arthritis information and activities for the family. Money raised will go toward helping people gain access to the critical medications necessary to live full, healthy lives and to fund research that provides better treatments and promises a cure down the road. This is a great time to get involved and learn more about this major health issue.

For more information about the Walk to Cure Arthritis, call 216.285.2829 or email Courtney Durbin at [email protected]



Health Cleveland Clinic


  • Sparx City Hop

    08/19/2017
    11:00AM — 06:00PM

    As patrons loop through neighborhoods on trolleys, tour guides will share interesting facts and p...


It looks like we don't have any events for this date. You can always add an event.

It looks like we don't have any events for this date. You can always add an event.

It looks like we don't have any events for this date. You can always add an event.

  • Wade Oval Wednesdays

    08/23/2017
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Enjoy a FREE concert, food trucks, vendors, theme nights, and activities vary each week and are a...


It looks like we don't have any events for this date. You can always add an event.

  • Euclid Farmers' Market

    08/25/2017
    03:00PM — 06:30PM

    Market features locally grown and organic produce, baked goods, bedding plants, herbs, candles an...


  • Mentor City Fest

    08/25/2017
    04:00PM — 11:00PM

    Mentor's favorite family-friendly festival offers a full slate of entertainment, vendors, food, a...


  • Concerts and more at the Glen

    08/25/2017
    07:00PM — 08:30PM

    Bring a lawn chair or blanket. Bring a picnic to enjoy before the show. Snacks and beverages are ...


  • Sparx City Hop

    08/19/2017
    11:00AM — 06:00PM

    As patrons loop through neighborhoods on trolleys, tour guides will share interesting facts and p...


  • Wade Oval Wednesdays

    08/23/2017
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Enjoy a FREE concert, food trucks, vendors, theme nights, and activities vary each week and are a...


  • Euclid Farmers' Market

    08/25/2017
    03:00PM — 06:30PM

    Market features locally grown and organic produce, baked goods, bedding plants, herbs, candles an...


  • Mentor City Fest

    08/25/2017
    04:00PM — 11:00PM

    Mentor's favorite family-friendly festival offers a full slate of entertainment, vendors, food, a...


  • Concerts and more at the Glen

    08/25/2017
    07:00PM — 08:30PM

    Bring a lawn chair or blanket. Bring a picnic to enjoy before the show. Snacks and beverages are ...


  • The Singing Angels Open Auditions

    08/26/2017
    10:00AM — 02:00PM

    Be part of a professional group that performs for thousands of people, including at such prestigi...


  • Mentor City Fest

    08/26/2017
    12:00PM — 11:00PM

    Mentor's favorite family-friendly festival offers a full slate of entertainment, vendors, food, a...


  • 9th Annual Cleveland Garlic Festival

    08/26/2017
    12:00PM — 09:00PM

    Featuring a celebrity chef competition, live music, kids area, parades and many more events and a...


  • Railroad Memorabilia Show

    08/27/2017
    10:00AM — 05:00PM

    Collectors will show off their private collections of railroad related items like railroad signal...


  • 72nd One World Day Festival

    08/27/2017
    11:00AM — 07:00PM

    Featuring parade of flags, guided trolley tours, family activities, beer garden, naturalization c...


  • 9th Annual Cleveland Garlic Festival

    08/27/2017
    12:00PM — 06:00PM

    Featuring a celebrity chef competition, live music, kids area, parades and many more events and a...


  • Senior Safari

    08/30/2017
    10:00AM — 01:00PM

    Come out to Senior Safari Days where guests 62 and better get free admission to the Zoo. Tai Chi ...


  • The Singing Angels Open Auditions

    08/30/2017
    04:00PM — 07:00PM

    Be part of a professional group that performs for thousands of people, including at such prestigi...


  • Wade Oval Wednesdays

    08/30/2017
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Enjoy a FREE concert, food trucks, vendors, theme nights, and activities vary each week and are a...


  • Geauga County Fair

    08/31/2017
    09:00AM — 12:00AM

    Exhibits open daily at 10 am Rides open daily at noon Exhibits, animals, rides, music, foo...


  • Geauga County Fair

    09/01/2017
    09:00AM — 12:00AM

    Exhibits open daily at 10 am Rides open daily at noon Exhibits, animals, rides, music, foo...


  • Euclid Farmers' Market

    09/01/2017
    03:00PM — 06:30PM

    Market features locally grown and organic produce, baked goods, bedding plants, herbs, candles an...


  • Geauga County Fair

    09/02/2017
    09:00AM — 12:00AM

    Exhibits open daily at 10 am Rides open daily at noon Exhibits, animals, rides, music, foo...


  • Geauga County Fair

    09/03/2017
    09:00AM — 12:00AM

    Exhibits open daily at 10 am Rides open daily at noon Exhibits, animals, rides, music, food,...


  • Salute To Orange

    09/03/2017
    05:30PM

    Featuring entertainment, rocket car rides, fireworks, food & more.


  • Geauga County Fair

    09/04/2017
    09:00AM — 12:00AM

    Exhibits open daily at 10 am Rides open daily at noon Exhibits, animals, rides, music, food,...


  • Preschool Safari- Getting Around

    09/06/2017
    10:00AM — 11:30AM

    Your little Zoo enthusiasts are sure to love these fun-filled programs designed for families with...


  • Euclid Farmers' Market

    09/08/2017
    03:00PM — 06:30PM

    Market features locally grown and organic produce, baked goods, bedding plants, herbs, candles an...


  • Lyndhurst Home Days

    09/08/2017
    06:00PM — 11:00PM

    Located at Lyndhurst Park, (behind city hall), this year's event will be filled with activities, ...


  • Doggie Dip 2017

    09/09/2017
    10:00AM — 01:00PM

    Thornton Park Pool goes to the dogs. Owners are welcome to swim with their dogs in the unheated/u...


  • Lyndhurst Home Days

    09/09/2017
    01:00PM — 11:00PM

    Located at Lyndhurst Park, (behind city hall), this year's event will be filled with activities, ...