July 5, 2011

Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month Underscores Importance of Knowing Warning Signs

Early Diagnosis Key to Preventing Joint Damage

ATLANTA, July 5, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Juvenile arthritis is one of the most common chronic illnesses affecting children, yet it often goes undetected or misdiagnosed when symptoms first appear. This July, Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month, the Arthritis Foundation is focusing on increasing awareness of the signs of the disease and resources available for families affected by it.

Juvenile arthritis affects 300,000 children in the U.S. While there are many forms of juvenile arthritis, one common thread among them is that they can have a serious, even life-threatening impact on a young child. It's important for caregivers to know the signs and symptoms.

"When joint pain, swelling or stiffness occurs in one or more joints for at least six weeks, it may be an early signal of a serious, inflammatory rheumatic disease that requires immediate medical treatment to prevent permanent joint damage," says Arthritis Foundation Vice President of Public Health, Dr. Patience White.

"There has never been a more optimistic outlook for children with juvenile arthritis," she adds. "Advances in research have produced new treatments that moderate the effects of juvenile arthritis. Early diagnosis and a proper treatment plan can enable a child with the disease to live an active, full childhood."

In a continued effort to reduce the heavy burden of juvenile arthritis and the unacceptable pain, disability and cost of this chronic disease, the Arthritis Foundation is leading the way to conquer this disease through the following programs and services:

  • Juvenile Arthritis Conference - Taking place July 7-10 in Washington, D.C., the nationwide conference is held annually for families affected by juvenile arthritis and other rheumatic diseases. Specific educational tracks focus on issues relating to parents, teens/young adults, children affected by arthritis and their siblings. In addition, the conference offers families a chance to network with each other and learn new techniques for managing juvenile arthritis and other rheumatic diseases.
  • Juvenile Arthritis Advocacy - Nine states do not have a single specialist to treat children with juvenile arthritis. Arthritis advocates speak out for federal support to train more pediatric rheumatologists and for more research funding to help children with all forms of juvenile arthritis.
  • Juvenile Arthritis Website - A new website, www.KidsGetArthritisToo.org, provides a virtual community where youngsters can find information on juvenile arthritis and read stories about other children with the disease.
  • Juvenile Arthritis Registry - Efforts to track drug side effects and establish treatment benchmarks through a registry aim to benefit future juvenile arthritis treatments.

More information on juvenile arthritis and resources for families is available on the Arthritis Foundation website at http://www.arthritis.org/juvenile-arthritis.php.

About the Arthritis Foundation
Striking one in every five adults and 300,000 children, arthritis is the nation's leading cause of disability. The Arthritis Foundation (www.arthritis.org) is committed to raising awareness and reducing the impact of this serious, painful and unacceptable disease, which can severely damage joints and rob people of living life to its fullest. The Foundation funds life-changing research that has restored mobility in patients for more than six decades; fights for health care policies that improve the lives of the millions who live with arthritis; and partners with families to provide empowering programs and information.

SOURCE Arthritis Foundation