Many people are unaware that this arthritis can affect children as well as adults.
Children like Noah Vezina of Burlington, Vermont, who was diagnosed with Polyarticular Juvenile Rheumatoid arthritis when he was just four years old. Noah is the face of arthritis. He was diagnosed when his parent confirmed with a doctor that his “growing pains” were actually arthritis. Prior to his diagnosis, Noah had pain off and on affecting many joints including his feet, knees, neck, shoulders, elbows, toes, hip and fingers.
Noah and his parents met with a doctor like me. I am a pediatric rheumatologist at the University of Vermont Children’s Hospital at the University of Vermont Medical Center. I’m also the Medical Chair for the “Just Move It” event and walk hosted and sponsored by the Arthritis Foundation on Sunday, October 27, 2013 in South Burlington, Vermont. Our goal is to raise awareness and funds to fight arthritis, which is the nation’s leading cause of disability. The numbers are staggering: It is estimated that arthritis affects one out of every five adults and although less common in children there are over 300,000 children in the US with JA.
There are many different forms of arthritis, including osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) that affect adults. Juvenile arthritis (JA) is an umbrella term for the different types of arthritis in individuals less than 16 years of age at onset of disease.
It has been a long and rough 3+ years since Noah was diagnosed but overall, he is doing well. He struggles with joint pain sometimes on a daily basis, not being able to walk or write, and has to cope with the not so fun reality of labs and injections. He will be at the ‘Just Move It’ event – in fact, he has been selected to lead it as a local youth ambassador!
There is no known cause for arthritis and no cure available, but, through research, more effective medications have been developed to treat this disease.
As the event is so close to Halloween, participants are encouraged to come in costume. To register to walk please visit the Arthritis Foundation Website. Want to know more? Learn more about arthritis in children. Learn more about the different types of arthritis.
Leslie Abramson, MD, is a Pediatric Rheumatologist at the Vermont Children’s Hospital at the University of Vermont Medical Center. She is also Associate Professor at the Larner College of Medicine at UVM.