Several types of rheumatic disease can afflict children, including juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus and Lyme disease. When patients first come to a pediatric rheumatologist's office, they often complain of fever, skin rashes and swollen lymph nodes, as well as painful, swollen joints.
There are several types of juvenile arthritis, some of which affect girls more than boys. Examples include polyarticular juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, which can adversely affect joints in the regions of the knees, ankles and wrists, as well as the jaw, neck, hips and shoulders. This form of the disease is also referred to as juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), as research has yet to find any underlying causes for the condition. A 2007 research study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that approximately 294,000 U.S. children below 18 years of age have been diagnosed with an arthritic or rheumatologic health condition. The same study also shows that the condition juvenile arthritis is seen more often in girls than boys.
Joint cartilage that has become damaged as a result of juvenile arthritis can result in stiffness of joints, which will lead to less flexibility in movement. Patients suffering from juvenile arthritis have a limited ability to move their limbs. Depending on the age of onset, the disease can affect overall bone growth, which may lead to a shorter height and stature.