Tuesday, July 24, 2012

July is Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month

Did you know that there are approximately 300,000 children in the United States that have arthritis?  A little over 2 years ago I didn't either.  I, like a lot of people, thought that arthritis was only a problem for older people.  Then I woke up to Ella crying around 1:00 am on June 21, 2010...her 3rd birthday.  Her knee was swollen, red, and hurting her very badly.  She couldn't walk or put any weight on it at all.  I was a little freaked out, but thought it must just be bad growing pains or something.  Unfortunately, it wasn't just growing pains.  After months of tests...x-rays, ultrasounds, blood work, and countless appointments, Ella was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis.  Here are some facts about juvenile arthritis:

-Juvenile Arthritis is one of the most common childhood diseases in the US.
-There is no cause or cure for juvenile arthritis.
-Symptoms of JA include pain, swelling, redness, and stiffness of joints.  Unlike adult arthritis, JA can also attack the eyes, skin, gastrointestinal tract, and other organs.  Fever and a rash can also be symptoms of some types of JA.
-There is no single test to diagnose juvenile arthritis.  A diagnosis is based on complete medical history and careful medical examination.
-Care by a pediatric rheumatologist is important for most forms of JA.
-The primary goals of treatment for JA are to control inflammation (swelling), relieve pain, prevent joint damage, and maximize functional abilities.
-Treatment plans usually include medication, physical activity, physical and/or occupational therapy, education, eye care, dental care, and proper nutrition.

(Taken from the Arthritis Foundation (www.arthritis.org))

JA is a very unpredictable disease.  Some days Ella has little or no pain.  We love good days!  Then there are days when she has a lot of pain, swelling, and stiffness.  She also gets fevers and sometimes a rash when she has a flare up.  In addition, she has developed acid reflux from the medicines we use to minimize her symptoms.

This is the rash Ella gets sometimes when she has a flare up:

And here are her swollen knees:

We are still working with Ella's doctors to figure out which type of JA she has and which treatment will work best for her.  The ultimate goal is for her JA to go into remission and stay that way.  I hope and pray we see that day soon!  

Ella on her 5th birthday (6/21/12)