Child Rheumatism - Causes

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Child Rheumatism - Causes
Child Rheumatism - Causes
Video: Child Rheumatism - Causes
Video: Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA): Pathology & Clinical Presentation – Pediatrics | Lecturio 2023, February

Childhood rheumatism: causes & symptoms

Child rheumatism is a chronic inflammation of the joints or the synovial membrane (synovia) that occurs before the age of 16 and lasts for more than six weeks without discovering another cause. According to the definition of the International League Against Rheumatism (ILAR), this disease is now known as Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA). The word juvenile stands for youthful, idiopathic means that no cause can be determined for the disease.


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  • What are the causes of rheumatism in children?
  • What are the symptoms?
  • ">What consequential damage can arise?


  • Whom can I ask?


What are the causes of rheumatism in children?

It is assumed that there is an inherited tendency to react to various environmental factors such as infections (bacteria or viruses) or injuries with a false reaction of the immune system. The defense is directed against the body's own tissue, in particular the synovial membrane, tendon sheaths or internal organs and causes inflammation.

What are the symptoms?

In most forms of rheumatism, inflammation of the joints (arthritis) is the most important symptom. This leads to increased blood flow and swelling of the synovial membrane. There is an increased production of synovial fluid ("joint effusion"). If the inflammation persists for a long time without appropriate treatment, cartilage, bones, tendons and ligaments can be damaged or destroyed.

JIA causes pain, swelling, and overheating in childhood, but rarely reddening of the affected joint. Small children, in particular, often express pain non-verbally: They sleep restlessly, want to be carried, have limited resilience and can adopt joint-specific protective postures. The joint pain restricts the child's natural urge to move and change the movement patterns. This can lead to certain relieving postures and - in the absence of treatment - long-term joint misalignments. Depending on the location of the disease, it is noticeable that the child has problems grasping or limping. Involvement of individual fingers and toes is typical of arthritis.

Upon the occurrence of one or more of the following signs should see parents with their child a Specialist / a specialist in child and adolescent medicine or a doctor / a General Practitioner:

  • Swelling, pain, overheating of one or more joints,
  • Limping, refusing to run, unusual grasping,
  • Toddler suddenly wants to be carried again, although it can already walk,
  • unclear, prolonged rashes with or without fever,
  • Fever of unclear cause,
  • heel or unexplained back pain in school children,
  • "Morning stiffness" of joints lasting minutes to hours.

Parents can check their child for joint pain themselves:

  • In a relaxed situation, carefully move the joints back and forth one at a time and watch the child closely.
  • When moving diseased joints, defensive reactions occur, the child struggles, grimaces.
  • Furthermore, both sides should be equally mobile, not overheated and not painful to touch.
  • Defense reactions are a clear indication that something might be wrong at this point.

What consequential damage can arise?

The chronic inflammatory process usually only progresses very slowly in children, which is why joint damage often only occurs after several months or years. In addition, rheumatism in children often causes growth disorders in the affected joints. With smaller children, the focus is on accelerated growth of the affected leg by stimulating the growth plate. Arthritis in the knee joint, for example, often leads to the lengthening of the leg. In older children, the closure of the growth plates is anticipated and results in a shortening, which can be seen particularly clearly on toes and fingers. Under certain circumstances, growth in length can also be slowed down, which results in short stature.

If JIA continues in an extremely inflammatory stage over many years, there is a risk of dangerous consequential damage to internal organs, for example through the production of pathological protein (amyloid), which is mainly deposited in the kidneys, but also in the liver, spleen, intestines and heart and healthy tissue displaced (amyloidosis).

Whom can I ask?

Joint problems in children should always be taken seriously and clarified by specialized doctors. If one or more symptoms occur, parents and their child should consult a specialist in paediatrics or a doctor in general medicine.

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