Staying Open-Minded About Your Healthcare

When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, I didn't know what I was going to do. After the devastation subsided, I decided to take a very standard, western approach to my healing. Although initial efforts were successful, my cancer recurred a few months later. I endured many additional months of treatment before I started focusing on myself. I decided it was time to incorporate complimentary alternative treatments into my healing regimen, including massage therapy. I can't even begin to tell you how much it changed my life. My healing became a process, instead of something I simply had to endure. I hope that the articles on my website can inspire you to stay open-minded about your own healthcare.

Are They Growing Pains Or Warning Signs Of Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Health & Medical Blog

You may know arthritis to be an ailment that primarily older people have, but children can have it, too. Rheumatoid arthritis, a degenerative auto-immune disorder, can happen to a child of any age. Unfortunately, its early warning symptoms are often confused for simple growing pains, delaying treatment for the disease. If you're worried about your child's pain, this guide will help you to discern whether your child is simply getting bigger or if they have juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.

Growing Pains: Why It Hurts

Growing pains are a normal part of childhood and early adolescence. While the level of pain varies between children, it's understandable why it hurts: your child's body is rapidly growing every single day. Their bones, muscles, ligaments, and tissue have to grow, and this growth process may be a bit uncomfortable. Sometimes, all of the parts of the body don't grow perfectly evenly, meaning that your child's skin may be slightly stretched until it catches up with the growth of their bones, or their muscles may become tight until they grow long enough to support the bones. While these differences in growth are microscopic and completely normal, temporary discomfort may still be noticeable to your child.

In addition, children are rambunctious, and growth spurts sometimes result in children becoming a little clumsy. It's possible that a child going through a growth phase may fall or bump into things more often, and this can result in pain they wouldn't normally have, even if they don't remember initially getting hurt.

Rheumatoid Arthritis: How It's Different

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that triggers the body's immune system to attack healthy cells. As a result, connective tissues and cushioning between the joints becomes damaged by the immune system. This can result in pain, stiffness, discomfort, or even mobility problems. Thankfully, there are a few symptoms that make rheumatoid arthritis stand out that growth spurts never have:

  • Inflammation - If your child is complaining of pain, check the area. If their affected joints seem noticeably puffy and swollen, this may be a sign of rheumatoid arthritis. Make sure that there are no bruises, cuts, or scratches that may be the potential cause of an unrelated infection.

  • Heat - The immune system's attack on healthy cells can actually generate heat, much like a body creating a fever to kill off bacteria. Touch the affected areas of your child's body and see if they feel significantly warmer than the rest of their body.

  • Rash - Rheumatoid arthritis can cause a rash called rheumatoid vasculitis that's essentially a side effect of arthritis. Inflammation in the veins and arteries can appear on a child's legs in particular. This complication can become serious, so never ignore a rash on your child's extremities.

What To Do If You Think It's Arthritis

If the symptoms seem to indicate that your child has arthritis, get them to their pediatrician right away. Their pediatrician will physically examine them, and if they suspect arthritis is the culprit, they'll run a special blood test that looks for evidence of autoimmune disorder antibodies. If the test comes back positive, your child will need to be treated for the disease, either with medication to control the symptoms or medication to stop the immune system's attack on the joints.

Having your child go from a happy, healthy kid to struggling with pain can be as scary for a parent as it is for the child. If your child experiences pain for prolonged periods, even if it doesn't seem to be arthritis, check with a doctor like those at Willow Oak Pediatrics to make sure everything's okay.


13 November 2015