What Causes Joint Pain In Children & How To Manage Them?

Joint Pain In Children

It is quite concerning for any parent or caregiver when their child starts complaining of pain in the joints or the lower extremities. In most of the cases, the pain is due to growth and such pains go away without any treatment. On the same note, it is also important for parents to have knowledge of signs that may indicate something more than just growth pains that may be causing discomfort in the child. Growth pains are described as pains in the muscles normally occurring in the thighs calves, and the knees immediately behind them.[1]

The diagnosis of exactly what is causing Joint Pain in Children is somewhat dependent on the whether the physician is able to differentiate between the common from the more serious causes for the condition. If the diagnosis and treatment is started early then in most cases there is complete recovery of the child.[1] This article highlights some of the causes for Joint Pain in Children and different ways to manage them.

What Causes Joint Pain In Children?

Some of the benign conditions that may result in Joint Pain in Children include trauma during playing or an injury. Sometimes overuse is also a factor when it comes to joint pain in children. Chondromalacia patella is yet another common factor that is seen in children with joint pains along with hypermobility syndrome.[1]

In majority of the cases, joint pains are caused by overuse or muscle aches and pains. However, there are some conditions that can also cause Joint Pain in Children that require treatment. These conditions include:[2]

Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis: This can be one of the causes if the child is complaining of joint pains on a regular basis. This is a condition that causes pain in multiple joints. The difference between juvenile idiopathic arthritis and growth pain is that the former causes ambulation and movement problems which cannot be seen in the latter. Juvenile idiopathic arthritis is a condition that can be difficult to diagnose and its symptoms are quite variable. However, it is vital for the condition to be diagnosed early so as to prevent problems with mobility at a later time when the child reaches adolescence.[2]

Lupus: This is an autoimmune disorder that has an impact on almost all the organs of the body. This condition is quite rare in children but is seen to occur when they reach adolescence. Girls seem to be affected more than boys with Lupus.[2]

The presenting features of this condition include persistent fatigue along with fever. There will also be swelling, pain, and stiffness of the joint. Skin rashes may also develop as a result of Lupus. Some teenagers suffer from hair loss as a result of lupus. The symptoms of this condition can at times be very severe and other times mild. Thus an early diagnosis and treatment is the key for a better outcome.[2]

Lyme’s Disease: This disease is caused by tick bites that spread a bacterial infection. The bacterium is present in the ticks and when they bite, it enters the human body causing the infection. The ticks that cause this disease live in grassy areas and feed on animals. The primary presenting feature Lyme disease includes a rash around the area of the bite. The patient will also have persistent fatigue with fever and chills, pain in the muscles and joints, and in some cases the face gets paralyzed. Since children spend a lot of time outdoors playing around, they become vulnerable to tick bites that cause Lyme disease.[2]

It generally takes up to three weeks for the symptoms of this condition to appear. Joint Pain in Children is at times the first and the only symptom of this condition. Lyme disease needs to be diagnosed and treated early to prevent any complications from occurring.[2]

Leukemia: This is one of the most serious causes of Joint Pain in Children. This cancer starts in the bone marrow and is quite common in children. One of the symptoms of leukemia in children is muscle and joint pain that can be quite severe. Additionally, the child will also have anemia, easy bruising, frequent infections, lymph node swelling, and pain in the abdomen. If leukemia is suspected in a child then it is imperative to take the child to a physician for treatment for a better outcome.[2]

How To Manage Joint Pain In Children?

If the Joint Pain in Children is caused due to growth then there is no specific treatments required. There are certain home remedies that can be practiced for pain relief.

These include:

Warm Shower: A warm shower soothes the tight muscles and relaxes them. It also helps to calm down the pain and discomfort especially at bedtime and helps the child have a restful sleep.[2]

Massaging: When done around the affected area, gentle massage is also quite effective in relaxing the tight muscles.[2]

Stretches: Gentle stretches of the affected muscles is also quite effective in treating the pain and discomfort in the joints. It should be noted here that the exercises that need to be done should be discussed with the physician or the physical therapist to prevent any damage to the muscles.[2]

Heat Application: This is also quite an effective way to treat Joint Pain in Children. The warmth of the heat soothes the muscles and allows it to relax. However, it should be ensured that direct heat should not be applied as it can cause blisters. A warm water bottle or a heating pad is ideal for children.[2]

Pain Medications: Along with these home remedies, children may also be given over the counter pain medication to help with pain and discomfort.[2]

For the more serious causes of Joint Pain in Children, a consultation with a specialist is necessary for a confirmative diagnosis and to formulate the best treatment plan. In cases of leukemia, the child may have to undergo chemotherapy along with other treatments for a better overall prognosis.[2]

References:

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