The Seabreeze Beacon

July is Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month


Kacey Flores, PA-C Physician Assistant, Coastal Gateway Health Center

What is juvenile arthritis?

Juvenile arthritis (JA) is a condition that can cause stiff or swollen joints, pain, and other symptoms in children. That’s right, kids get arthritis! It is a common misconception that only “old” people are afflicted with arthritis. Nearly 300,000 children in America have been diagnosed with juvenile arthritis.

Arthritis is a Latin medical term for inflammation of the joints. It happens when the body’s infection-fighting system, called the “immune system”, attacks the joints. This illness can also attack the eyes, skin, and gastrointestinal tract (the main organs that make up your digestive system). It is a chronic condition, and symptoms can last for months, years, or even a lifetime.

Most cases of juvenile idiopathic arthritis are sporadic, which means they occur in people with no family history of the disorder. A small percentage of cases have been reported to run in families, although the inheritance pattern of the condition is unclear.


A family medicine clinician or pediatrician often initiates workups for the patient, but parents may be referred to a rheumatologist or a doctor with specialized training in treating arthritis. The clinician will ask questions about the child’s medical and family history. A physical exam can reveal signs such as limited range of motion, rash, eye redness, joint swelling, tenderness, stiffness, and/or pain. Symptoms are typically worse in the morning and after a nap or prolonged sitting. One of the earliest signs may be limping in the morning due to problems with one or both legs. Symptoms can be intermittent, so the diagnosis is often delayed or even missed.

Laboratory tests that look for inflammatory markers and imaging tests to look for signs of joint damage can also help rule out other causes, like trauma or infection.


There is no cure for JA. However, remission (little or no disease activity or symptoms) is possible with early diagnosis and aggressive treatment. The treatment approach controls pain levels, reduces inflammation, and maintains mobility. Several medications can help treat symptoms through various routes (oral, injectable). Clinicians may also recommend physical therapy, occupational therapy, eye drops, or even surgery if symptoms are severe.

Complementary options include dietary changes, exercises, hot/cold treatments, topical creams, mind-body therapies, massage, and acupuncture.

How To Observe Juvenile Arthritis Month

  1. Research and learn more about JA (a good source is
  2. Raise awareness by sharing with friends, posting on social media
  3. Host a community event or find one through the Arthritis Foundation
  4. Wear a blue ribbon during July, which is the symbol chosen to represent JA awareness


Coastal Gateway Health Center can be reached by phone at 409.296.4444 or by email at [email protected].  For more information regarding our services and programs, please visit our website at or find and follow us on Facebook.  We are proud to be #yourcommunityhealthcenter.

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