How to recognize children’s and young people’s rheumatism

How to recognize rheumatism in children and adolescentsRheumatism in children usually manifests itself in joint pain – caused by inflammation. Frequently, there are also restricted movements of affected hands and feet or. arms and legs or the spine.

How to recognize rheumatism in children and adolescents

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Pediatric rheumatism: Early detection can prevent permanent damage

Childhood and adolescent rheumatism (juvenile idiopathic arthritis, or JIA for short) differs in many ways from the form that affects adults. That is why it is important that you place your child in the hands of a pediatric and adolescent rheumatologist. The earlier he can start treatment, the better the chances are of preventing permanent damage to the joints.

As soon as you notice that your child is limping for several days, suddenly writes spidery, has difficulty grasping things or wants to be carried again, it is important to have these signs clarified by a doctor as soon as possible.

How to recognize pediatric and juvenile rheumatism?

JIA in children most often manifests itself in the fact that one or more joints are inflamed. Your child may feel pain, joints may swell and be warm. Some movements are then often more difficult. As a rule of thumb, you can remember the following: If these symptoms start before the age of 16. years of age and last at least six weeks, it may be a JIA. And then only one thing applies: Off to the specialist! The pediatric and juvenile rheumatologist will have a detailed conversation to tap into your child's past medical history and then perform various tests on your child.

He or she will then be able to tell whether it is really a JIA and if so, what form it is. There are in fact different forms of this disease.

During the examination, the doctor first assesses the visible signs of juvenile rheumatism. To do this, he palpates z. B. The doctor examines the joints and takes pictures of the affected joints, which show whether there is inflammation or a change in the joint.

In the lab, he also has certain levels in his blood tested, which can also indicate JIA and its particular form.

Important in any case:

No time to waste! Since JIA can permanently damage joints, it is important to take action immediately after the findings and have your child treated.

This is how your child understands it: The most important examination methods at a glance

What's the best way to explain to your child what's going on during the exam? We have summarized it here in simple words.

Juvenile rheumatism in pictures

Method 1: The ultrasound (sonography)

It allows the doctor to take pictures of the inside of a joint using harmless ultrasound waves. This does not hurt, but the doctor can see if a joint has changed due to the rheumatism or if too much synovial fluid has accumulated. The device that z. B. is placed on the knee or hand, reminiscent of a shower head.

In addition, a gel is applied so that no air gets between the ultrasound device and the skin. This may feel a bit cold, but it is bearable. Ultrasound is the most common way to take pictures of the joints. It is important for the detection of the disease, but also to see how the rheumatism develops.

Method 2: The X-ray

During this examination, the doctor shines X-rays through the joint and at the same time also shows the bones and their surroundings on a film. It's basically like a special photo in black and white. And on it he can see things that he would not see with the naked eye. This photo is taken in a special room. The knee joint is put in the right position and then it's really important not to move it for a moment so the picture doesn't blur.

Method 3: Magnetic resonance imaging, MRI for short

The doctor uses it to take a lot of pictures of the body that show inflammation in the joint. Depending on which part of the body is to be imaged, an arm or a leg is placed in the MRI machine. It is constructed like a large tube. And sometimes it can be that you are pushed completely into this tube. The device will then make knocking noises, this is quite normal and does not hurt. Here, too, it is important to remain still while the images are being taken, otherwise the images could be blurred. And who wants blurry photos?

The (sharp) images of the joints are important so that the doctor can see how severe the child and adolescent rheumatism is. In this way he can make the right decision, which therapy is best or whether he should improve the treatment.

Method 4: Values from the laboratory

For a thorough finding, it is also important to examine the blood. After the doctor has taken a blood sample, he sends it to the laboratory and has it analyzed. In concrete terms, he looks for certain substances that have such complicated names as C-reactive protein (CRP for short). These substances increase with inflammation.

Blood sedimentation rate shows how the red blood cells are behaving. If there is a high value, the doctor knows that the inflammation is severe.

While these values refer to inflammation in general, there are also factors that can indicate which rheumatic form is involved. But with all the values found, it is important to keep one thing in mind: There is no laboratory test that can prove JIA one hundred percent or that can rule out other conditions. can exclude. A characteristic determined in the laboratory can only confirm a diagnosis, point to a specific form of JIA or even exclude other diseases. In addition, these laboratory tests help to control the therapy in the best possible way.

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