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About Pediatric Arthritis and Other Rheumatic Diseases

What is the difference between arthritis and other rheumatic diseases?

Arthritis, itself a group of more than 100 different diseases, is one category of rheumatic diseases. Rheumatic diseases may cause pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joints and other supporting body structures, such as muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones. However, rheumatic diseases can affect other areas of the body, including internal organs. Some rheumatic diseases involve connective tissues (called connective tissue diseases), while others may be caused by autoimmune disorders, which are diseases involving the body's immune system attacking its own healthy cells and tissues.

What is the immune system?

The purpose of the immune system is to keep infectious microorganisms, such as certain bacteria, viruses, and fungi, out of the body, and to destroy any infectious microorganisms that do invade the body. The immune system is made up of a complex and vital network of cells and organs that protect the body from infection.

When the immune system does not function properly, it leaves the body susceptible to an array of diseases. Allergies and hypersensitivity to certain substances are considered immune system disorders. In addition, the immune system plays a role in the rejection process of transplanted organs or tissue. Other examples of immune disorders include:

Anatomy of the immune system, child
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Who treats pediatric arthritis and other rheumatic diseases?

Arthritis and other rheumatic diseases may be treated by your child's pediatrician and/or other medical specialists and healthcare providers. Several physicians from different medical specialties may be involved in the treatment of your child at the same time. This multidisciplinary team approach is particularly important in managing symptoms of the rheumatic disease, especially as many symptoms are chronic and change in severity over time. Some of the more common medical professionals involved in the treatment of arthritis or other rheumatic diseases may include the following:

Who is affected by pediatric arthritis and other rheumatic diseases?

Arthritis and rheumatic diseases can affect anyone, at any age, or of any race. However, certain diseases are more common in certain populations, including the following:

What causes pediatric arthritis and other rheumatic diseases?

The cause of most types of rheumatic diseases remains unknown and, in many cases, varies depending on the type of rheumatic disease present. However, researchers believe that some/all of the following may play a role in the development or aggravation of one or more types of rheumatic diseases:

What are the symptoms of pediatric arthritis and other rheumatic diseases?

The following are the most common symptoms of pediatric arthritis and other rheumatic diseases. However, each child may experience symptoms differently, and different types of rheumatic diseases present different symptoms. In general, however, symptoms may include:

Symptoms of pediatric arthritis and other rheumatic diseases may resemble other medical conditions and problems. Always consult your child's physician for a diagnosis.

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