Say the word “arthritis” and most people think of joint pain affecting middle-aged and older adults. Unfortunately, it’s not just people in these age groups that suffer from the pain associated with arthritis. In fact, many young people struggle with what is known as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, which is the most common type of arthritis in children under the age of 17. July is juvenile rheumatoid arthritis month, so there’s no better time to explore this condition.
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis comes with a number of symptoms, from consistent joint pain to swelling and stiffness that can make even casual daily activities — such as walking to school or riding a bike — excruciatingly difficult. And while some children will experience juvenile rheumatoid arthritis for only a short period, such as a few months, others will face dealing with this condition for their entire lives. Thankfully, there are a number of treatment options for these young patients.
Upon receiving a juvenile rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis, many patients will be prescribed medications to help them cope with the often painful condition. The first and most accessible type of medication prescribed to these individuals is nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, otherwise known as NSAIDs.
As the name suggests, NSAIDs are designed to alleviate the symptoms associated with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis by reducing inflammation, in this case of the joints. Many NSAIDs are available over the counter, meaning they don’t even require a prescription. Examples include ibuprofen (Advil and Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve). Side effects, which are generally minimal, include nausea and issues with the liver.