Rheumatic diseases can affect children and young people;  know the signs

Most of the time, rheumatic diseases, such as arthritis, fibromyalgia and osteoporosis, are associated with adult individuals, especially those over 60 years of age. Unlike what common sense preaches, these diseases can also affect children and adolescents, according to the Brazilian Society of Rheumatology (SBR).

“There is a myth that rheumatic diseases, which are popularly called rheumatism, are something ‘old’, when in fact, rheumatic diseases can affect all age groups”, explains the rheumatologist and president of the SBR, Ricardo Xavier . Regardless of age, patients who experience rheumatic problems often experience pain, swelling, and stiffness in their joints.

Arthritis and fibromyalgia can affect children and young people (Image: Reproduction/Prostooleh/Envato Elements)

In numbers, rheumatic diseases affect more than 15 million people in Brazil. In general, type A diseases make it difficult for the locomotor system to function properly, that is, the joints, bones, muscles, cartilage, tendons and ligaments.

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Most common rheumatic diseases in children and young people

According to Xavier, enteropathic arthritis represents the majority of cases of rheumatic diseases in young people. They “are the arthritis most defined by the impairment that starts before the age of 16, it also comprises some types of arthritis with different manifestations, but the main symptom is the inflammatory process in the joint leading to pain, swelling and stiffness”, explains the rheumatologist.

In addition, there are other diseases that affect younger people, such as systemic lupus erythematosus. “Young patients can also have fibromyalgia and another group of diseases are the so-called auto-inflammatory diseases, where children can have intermittent fevers, cyclic fevers also associated with joint pain. These are probably the pictures we see most often”, he details.

Signs and symptoms of rheumatic diseases

The most characteristic symptoms of rheumatic diseases are pain and limitations in joint function, but these are not the only forms of identification, explains Xavier. “Rheumatic diseases comprise more than 120 diseases. There are different types of manifestations that may or may not involve what we call the musculoskeletal system, which are muscles, tendons, joints and bones in general”, he comments.

Joint pain may be a sign of rheumatologic disease (Image: Reproduction/Twenty20photos/Envato Elements)

Based on his clinical experience, the rheumatologist explains that the condition responsible for taking most patients to the office is persistent pain. “All pain in the joints or pain in any part of the limbs of muscles, tendons, bones, which lasts more than two to three weeks, is a good reason for us to seek medical attention, if possible with a rheumatologist”, says Xavier.

Remember that rheumatic diseases tend to be chronic, but there are effective treatments. “For the most part, rheumatic diseases have a chronic and persistent character. Therefore, they do not have a cure, like most chronic diseases — such as diabetes, hypertension — but they are diseases that are perfectly treatable”, explains the doctor.

Also, the available treatments can, depending on the case, lead to the remission of the disease, that is, it can “disappear” for long periods. To seek medical help, the rheumatologist is the most indicated specialty, but if this is not possible, the patient can seek either a general practitioner or an orthopedist.

Source: Brazil Agency

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