Complications of Arthritis in Children and Youth

Arthritis is often associated with the elderly, but it can also significantly impact children and youth. Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA), the most common type in children and youth, can lead to a range of complications if not properly managed.

Understanding these potential complications is essential for parents, caregivers, and healthcare professionals to provide timely and effective care. At Hope Arthritis Foundation, our mission is to improve the quality of care for children  and youth with rheumatic diseases through education and support.

In this blog post, we explore the various complications associated with pediatric arthritis.

Understanding Pediatric Arthritis

Pediatric arthritis, particularly Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA), is a chronic condition characterized by persistent joint inflammation. Early diagnosis and intervention are critical to prevent long-term damage and improve outcomes.

Here are some of the complications that can arise from arthritis in children:

Common Complications of Childhood Arthritis

  1. Joint Damage and Deformities
  • Cartilage and Bone Damage: Persistent inflammation can lead to the erosion of cartilage and damage to the bones in the affected joints.
  • Joint Deformities: Without proper treatment, children can develop joint deformities that affect their mobility and overall function.
  • Fixed Flexion: Affected joints can evolve and be in fixed flexion, leading to an inability to use the joint.
  1. Growth Problems
  • Stunted Growth: Chronic inflammation and the use of corticosteroids can interfere with a child’s growth, leading to shorter stature.
  • Uneven Growth: In some cases, one limb may grow faster than the other, resulting in uneven limb length.
  1. Eye Inflammation (Uveitis)
  • Chronic Uveitis: Uveitis, an inflammation of the middle layer of the eye, is a common complication of JIA. The children often do not have any signs or symptoms like a painful red eye. However, the inflammation progresses and if uncontrolled, leads to blindness among other eye complications.
  • Regular Eye Exams: Due to this complication, all children with JIA should be screened for uveitis by the eye specialist (ophthalmologist) every 3-6 months depending on various risk factors that are regularly checked by the pediatric rheumatologist.
  1. Osteoporosis
  • Bone Density Loss: Long-term use of corticosteroids and chronic inflammation can lead to reduced bone density, increasing the risk of fractures.
  • Calcium and Vitamin D: Ensuring adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D, along with weight-bearing exercises, can help maintain bone health.
  1. Psychosocial Impact
  • Emotional Stress: Living with a chronic illness can be emotionally challenging for children, leading to anxiety, depression, and social withdrawal.
  • Support Systems: Access to counseling and support groups can help children and their families cope with the emotional aspects of the disease.

Managing Complications Effectively

Early and aggressive treatment is crucial to managing complications of childhood arthritis. Prompt and early treatment is important to reduce and eliminate the burden of chronic pain and disability among children. Here are some strategies to consider:

  1. Comprehensive Medical Care
  • Regular Check-ups: Regular visits to a pediatric rheumatologist are essential for monitoring the disease and adjusting treatment plans.
  • Medication Management: Adhering to prescribed medication regimens can help control inflammation and prevent joint damage.
  1. Physical and Occupational Therapy
  • Physical Therapy: Regular physical therapy can help maintain joint flexibility and muscle strength.
  • Occupational Therapy: Occupational therapists can assist children in adapting to daily activities and maintaining independence.


  1. Nutrition and Lifestyle
  • Balanced Diet: A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains supports overall health and reduces inflammation.
  • Exercise: Regular, low-impact exercise such as swimming or cycling can improve joint function and overall well-being.
  • Weight Management: Maintaining a healthy weight reduces stress on the joints and decreases inflammation.
  1. Education and Support
  • Educational Resources: Providing education about the disease helps children and their families understand and manage the condition better.
  • Support Groups: Joining support groups can offer emotional support and practical advice from others facing similar challenges.

Hope Arthritis Foundation’s Mission

At Hope Arthritis Foundation, we are dedicated to transforming the lives of children with rheumatic diseases. Our mission is two-fold:

  1. Improving Quality of Care: We strive to enhance the quality of care for children with rheumatic diseases through advanced treatments and comprehensive care.
  2. Empowering Healthcare Workers: Through our boot camps and masterclasses, we educate healthcare professionals to better manage pediatric arthritis and its complications.

If you are a parent, caregiver, or healthcare professional, understanding the complications of childhood arthritis is crucial for providing the best care possible. Join us in our mission to improve the lives of children with rheumatic diseases.

Through our boot camp and masterclasses, learn the skills to identify and manage the top conditions in pediatric rheumatology, including:

  • Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA),
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE),
  • Juvenile Dermatomyositis (JDM),
  • Vasculitis

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