1. Will my disease still be called “juvenile” even when I’m a grown-up?
If you were diagnosed with some form of JA by your teens, your arthritis will always be the juvenile version, no matter your age. But as you mature, you’ll begin to transition to a doctor who treats adults and you’ll become more and more responsible for your own care. Get more info on making this transition.
2. Will I outgrow my arthritis?
Depending on what kind of arthritis you have, you could be symptom free and in remission for long periods of time. Some research reports as many as half of children diagnosed with JA go into near-permanent remission. The more aware you become as you get older of how you can best take care of yourself, the better off you’ll be. Don’t be too bummed if you do have flares. Stress only makes everything worse. Learn how other teens de-stress here.
3. Did I inherit JA from my parents?
Sometimes diseases can run in families. One dramatic example of this is Justin S's family. He and his twin brother and their dad all have arthritis! But juvenile arthritis is one of those diseases that have a whole bunch of factors contributing to its cause. According to Children’s Hospital in Boston, research suggests a mix of genetic and environmental factors: Something in a child’s genes may make him susceptible, but something else has to happen (an infection, perhaps) to set it off. A lot more research has to be done to figure it all out.
4. What does “rheumatic” mean?
Rheumatic diseases include any condition that causes pain and stiffness in joints and muscles. Doctors who specialize in treating joint and muscle problems are called rheumatologists. JIA used to be called (and sometimes still is) juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.
5. Should I tough it out through the pain?
Even though you want to be tough and resilient, pain can be a sign of an uncontrolled disease. And that could mean that still-growing bones and tissues could be being damaged. Talk with your doctor, nurse, or parents about any pain. You want your joints to be in good shape for all the years ahead of you!
6. What's the big deal about inflammation?
Inflammation is fantastic when it’s fighting against germs or rushing healing white cells to a cut. But in autoimmune diseases such as JA, inflammation is out-of-control crazy. And if it’s not treated, it can damage cartilage and bone (sometimes permanently) as well as do a number on the heart, lungs, and eyes. Controlling inflammation – with medications, ice, and other therapies – is one of the main goals of JA treatment. Read this for more on JA treatments.