Around 12,000 children in the UK are affected by arthritis, which represents 1 child in every 1000 under the age of 16.
Arthritis is a condition that causes swelling of the body's joints. As there is usually no known cause for the condition, most types are referred to as juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA).
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Research shows that JIA is an autoimmune disease. The white blood cells of the body are unable to distinguish between healthy cells and invaders like viruses and bacteria: as a result, the immune system releases chemicals that can damage healthy tissue, causing inflammation and pain.
JIA is divided into six types:
- Systemic JIA. This can affect the whole body. A characteristic symptom of systemic JIA is high fever that is often worse in the evening. During the onset of such a fever, the child often feels very ill and can develop a rash that suddenly disappears and reappears again. Any of the body's joints can be affected by pain, stiffness and swelling. In addition, the spleen and lymph nodes may enlarge.
- Oligoarticular JIA. This affects four or fewer joints, primarily the knees and ankles. It usually occurs in children six years or younger and is more prevalent in females.
- Polyarticular JIA. Affects the body's smaller joints, particularly in the hands and wrists. A low grade fever is often present. Small, painless lumps may occur on the skin over the forearms and elbows: these are known as rheumatoid nodules.
- Psoriatic JIA. This type affects both small and large joints and is twice as common in girls as compared to boys. It is accompanied by psoriasis, a scaly red rash on the skin.
- Enthesitis-Related JIA. Usually occurring in children after the age of 10, this type is found in boys much more than girls. The condition often affects the spine and legs and can be accompanied by inflammation at the entheses (areas where tendons join bones). This type of JIA includes juvenile ankylosing spondylitis (characterised by inflammation of joints in the lower back) and arthritis associated with ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.
- Undifferentiated JIA. This refers to cases of JIA that don't fit distinctly into just one of the categories above.
There is no known cure for JIA at present and so treatment centres around reducing the severity and impact of symptoms, with a range of treatments focussing on reducing pain and damage to the affected joints. One form of treatment is wearing Jobskin® Gaiters, specially-designed garments that offer support to affected limbs while assisting with relative movement. Medigarments Ltd design and manufacture a full range of gaiters in both ready-to-wear and made-to-measure formats.
Compliance can be an issue when it comes to the wearing of such garments, especially with young people. To help, Medigarments Ltd offer a wide selection of printed fabrics to appeal to a young audience as well as adults. Wearing gaiters has never been more fun and encourages children to have more control over their condition.
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