One of the big misunderstandings about arthritis is that it only affects the elderly. Too often, this type of thinking results in delays for early diagnosis and appropriate treatment for children and teens.
As many as 24,000 Canadian children aged 18 and under, live with a form of arthritis—that’s three out of every 1,000 kids.
Arthritis is one of the more common disorders resulting in chronic disability, affecting play, school, work and so much more. Kids can be affected by a variety of forms of arthritis, any of which can have potentially devastating effects on their developing bodies. These children may experience continuous inflammation, pain, stiffness and swelling. It may result in irregular growth problems, an increased likelihood for chronic uveitis (inflammation of the eye causing reduced vision) and painful flare-ups and disease remission that can come and go without warning.
While there is no cure yet, for childhood arthritis, early diagnosis and an effective treatment plan including medication, physiotherapy, appropriate physical activity, and rest can control pain and help to prevent joint damage. With appropriate guidance and support, a child with arthritis can lead an active and productive life.
Our hope is that we can make more people aware of childhood arthritis, that more children will be diagnosed early and appropriately, get the treatment and support they need. Everyone can help. Buy a ticket to the upcoming Okanagan Angel Awards on May 23 (angelawards.ca) or join us at the Walk to Fight Arthritis on June 8th at Stuart Park (walktofightarthritis.ca). With your help, they can get back to being children again.
The Arthritis Society is at 150A – 1855 Kirschner Rd. in Kelowna. For more information phone 250-868-8643 or visit www.arthritis.ca.
Trudy Battaglio is manager of education and services for the Interior Region.