Right now, somewhere nearby, there’s a child who longs to run and play and have the same kind of fun other kids his age are having. Who dreams about being pain-free without having to swallow a cocktail of pills, or feel the sting of injections, or go through hours of infusions at the doctor’s office. A kid who longs for an end to the trial-and-error approach of treating juvenile arthritis (JA) – seeing what works and what doesn’t, often with unpleasant side effects along the way.
Multiply that child by nearly 300,000, and you start to get the picture of how prevalent this little-known childhood disease is in our nation today. That number is about equal to the entire population of St. Louis or Cincinnati.
But juvenile arthritis doesn’t get the same kind of attention some other pediatric illnesses do. Arthritis is typically invisible. It’s stereotyped as “an old person’s disease,” merely an inevitable part of aging that people just have to live with. Yet more kids in the U.S. battle JA than do those with leukemia, juvenile diabetes and cystic fibrosis combined. And it’s a more complicated disease than most people realize.
March 18: World Juvenile Arthritis Day
March 18, 2019, is World Juvenile Arthritis Day. The Arthritis Foundation and CARRA (Childhood Arthritis and Rheumatology Research Alliance) have teamed up to shine a light on JA. On this date, we recognize an insidious disease of many types that makes navigating childhood extra challenging for many kids and their families. We think JA needs to be brought out of the shadows through this global observance.
Most people don’t know much, if anything, about JA or other childhood rheumatic illnesses – if they even know this category of diseases exists.
Basic Facts About Childhood Arthritis
No one knows for certain how far-reaching JA may be worldwide. But we do know a lot about its effects.
- The various types of JA share common symptoms, like pain, joint swelling, redness and warmth; each type is distinct and has its own symptoms and concerns.
- Juvenile idiopathic arthritis is the most common form of JA. But there are many types of JA and related conditions: lupus, juvenile dermatomyositis, scleroderma, fibromyalgia and psoriatic arthritis, just to name a few.
- Some types of JA affect the musculoskeletal system, but joint symptoms may be minor or nonexistent. JA can involve the eyes, skin, gastrointestinal tract and many other organs and systems.
- A child can develop JA at any age 16 and under, even as early as a year old or younger.
- Childhood arthritis can make it hard to take part in social and after-school activities – and make schoolwork more difficult.
- The emotional aspects of JA make many kids feel isolated. Being bullied is common, as are feelings of low self-esteem and self-worth.
Our Commitment to Fighting JA Is Stronger Than Ever
At the Arthritis Foundation, children with arthritis have been at the heart of our work for over seven decades. Today, in partnership with CARRA, our commitment to JA families is even stronger.
- In 2019, we mark the 35th anniversary of the Foundation’s National JA Conference. In both Houston and Minneapolis, hundreds of families from across the country will join us in person. Early bird registration is open until April 30, so sign up today.
- This summer, dozens of JA camps nationwide will boost self-confidence, foster independence and help kids with JA know they are not alone.
- Our joint research with CARRA promises to make personalized medicine for children with JA a reality. Learn more about:
- Connect with other parents through the Arthritis Foundation’s Live Yes! Arthritis Network, providing personalized help and support to parents who have a child or teen with a rheumatic disease.
- Watch our short Conquering Childhood Arthritis video.
You may plan to wear green to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. We’re starting a new tradition on the day after. Wear green one more day – and help us call more attention to juvenile arthritis and why we need a cure. Kids living with JA deal with it year-round; but by devoting a single day to JA, awareness will spread.
Learn more about JA and other kinds of arthritis – and how the Arthritis Foundation can help YOU, as well as what you can do to help our community. Be part of the solution by giving a generous gift today.This awareness effort is in conjunction with World Young Rheumatic Diseases Day and will be an annual event on March 18. Learn more about the global drive to spread the word that children and young adults get rheumatic diseases, too.