The most common form of arthritis found in children, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, is not fully understood and there is no single definitive test for the disease. A child under the age of 16 experiencing joint pain and inflammation lasting more than 6 weeks is strongly suspected to have juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Pediatrician’s sometimes perform specific blood tests to rule out possible ailments and may go further suggesting a visit to a joint disorder physician (rheumatologist) for further evaluation. However despite these efforts, medical science doesn’t yet know exactly what causes juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, other than knowing it emerges due to problems with a child’s immune system. Outlined is an overview of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, including links to research, explaining how though chiropractic care and craniosacral therapy, I may be able to help your child if they are struggling with this disease
Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis Explained
Though the exact cause of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is still unclear, it’s recognized and classified to be an autoimmune disorder, wherein a child’s immune system attacks their own healthy tissue and cells. This attack commonly produces inflammation, tremendous pain, and severe stiffness through at one or several points of the body. This happens because as an autoimmune disorder where the body attacks its own cells, a juvenile rheumatoid arthritis attack targets the joint capsules and soft tissues around them. The joint capsule is a sheath of thick connective tissue surrounding and protecting joints such as the wrists, knee, shoulders and other joints (the body has approximately 300 joints). Any inflammation of a structure inside the joint capsule will increase the pressure within the joint capsule producing pain and restricting available motion. This is the typical outcome of when a child’s errantly functioning immune system gives rise to a juvenile rheumatoid arthritis attack on their body.
Progression of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis can eventually result in enzymes destroying bone and cartilage, altering the alignment of the joints and leading to further pain, immobility and disrupt proper bone growth and development. There can also even be eye inflammation that, if left untreated, can lead to glaucoma, cataracts, calcium buildup in the cornea, and ultimately, blindness.
How Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis Attacks Joints
The joint capsule is critical to joint function providing nutrition and lubrication to the joint, sealing in the joint’s lubricating fluid and adding a protective sheath stabilizing joints. The joint capsule also has nerve endings within the capsule that are the “front lines” of the brain’s awareness of what’s going on and the communication pathway of the brain and body’s management of the joint, including defending attacks. Hence with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, it’s the child’s immune system attacking the lining (and nerves) of their joint capsules – disrupting awareness and proper miscommunication between the joint capsules and central nervous system or brain.
The joint capsule is made up of 2 layers of connective tissue. The outer layer is made of fibrous connective tissue. The inside synovial layer, known as the ‘synovium‘ or ‘synovial membrane’, is made of a highly vascular system composed of a large number of blood vessels regulating blood supply. This vascular layer secretes synovial fluid providing nutrition and lubrication to the joint capsules and joint surfaces. The fibrous outer layer of the capsule is tightly integrated with several structures including ligaments, tendons, ligaments and bursae (small sacs filled with fluid reducing friction between moving joint parts). It is the malfunctioning of this system within the joint capsule that’s producing the pain and restricted motion. In treating your child coping with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, a drug free wellness program will focus on revitalizing the health of their immune system and the proper functioning of the joint capsule systems throughout their body.
Symptoms of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis
There is actually a spectrum of arthritic conditions found in children under the age of 16 collectively known as juvenile idiopathic arthritis (idiopathic means that no specific cause has been determined). The signs and symptoms can vary, depending on what type of juvenile arthritis your child has.The first signs of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis can sometimes be mistaken for the ordinary illnesses and injuries of childhood. In other children the signs may be quite obviously those of arthritis.
Most children who develop Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis often experience sudden fevers, as well as develop some skin rash. Most forms of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis affect the spine, specifically within school-aged children around the age of 8 years old. Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis tends to originate within the hips, knees, or ankles before affecting the pelvic and lower back area. Symptoms may appear during episodes (flare-ups). Or they may be ongoing (chronic). Each child’s symptoms can vary. Symptoms may include:
- Swollen, stiff, and painful joints in the knees, hands, feet, ankles, shoulders, elbows, or other joints, often in the morning or after a nap
- Limping, particularly in the morning
- Eye inflammation
- Warmth and redness in a joint
- Less ability to use one or more joints
- Decreased appetite, poor weight gain, and slow growth
- High fever and rash
- Swollen lymph nodes
Important in the management of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is the restoration of motion that has been lost in joints. There are many ways to achieve this, including exercise, chiropractic manipulative treatment and craniosacral therapy. If a joint no longer has mobility, restoration of that joint is imperative to avoid degeneration. There is no substitute for motion, and movement is vital for all of our joints. It is essential for children with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis to remain as active as possible to maintain flexibility and build strong muscles.
Treating Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis in New York City
A combination of Chiropractic Care and Craniosacral Therapy can be effective in providing swift pain relief, immune system revitalization, and joint capsule functioning. It’s very important to treat any inflammation or swelling in the spine as it’s essential for children with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis to maintain proper posture in order to prevent symptoms from getting worse. If the vertebrae in the spine become misaligned, they can place pressure on nerves leading in and out of the spinal column. This can disrupt proper signaling to the brain regarding body function, leading to adding to the pain and stiffness associated with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. A chiropractic adjustment coupled with a craniosacral therapy treatment will open up the spaces between the vertebrae, allowing everything to realign properly, thereby releasing pressure on the nerves.
A 9-y-old boy with severe juvenile rheumatoid arthritis who had been recommended for bilateral hip replacement received chiropractic treatment from an interprofessional group of clinicians. The clinicians provided chiropractic, naturopathic, and acupuncture care, in addition to pediatrics, rheumatology, orthopedics, and physical therapy care. This process was not easy; the patient used crutches for 2 years during treatment and experienced severe pain secondary to multiple joint pathology. However by age 17 he regularly played golf and basketball with his own hips.
In this study the chiropractic treatment goals were to systematically relieve adhesions between fascial planes (membranes & tissues) and to mobilize joints. This would allow the body to build stability in a compressive load and to restore joint movement and muscular control of that movement.
Objective: To explain the remission of Juvenile Arthritis in a 16 year old female receiving chiropractic care.
Clinical Features: A 16 year old female diagnosed with Juvenile Arthritis sought chiropractic care due to severe joint pain.
Chiropractic Care & Outcome: The 16 year old’s spine was assessed through the use of manual palpation (the standard technique I use in applying craniosacral therapy). Vertebral subluxations were discovered on the spine in positions C1, C5, T4, L5 and sacrum. Chiropractic adjustments were applied in treatment and after 6 weeks of care, the patient was determined to be in remission and no longer needing of medications by her rheumatologist.
Conclusion: This case study concluded chiropractic care may be successful in the treatment of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis.
This case study points to the role of subluxations of the vertebra (spine & central nervous system) as the culprit contributing to Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. A subluxation occurs when a trauma or stressor upon a vertebra of the spine, bruises or slightly moves the vertebrae out of position, causing irritation and or inflammation on nerves. When this happens, spinal nerves protrude from between the vertebrae bones, malfunctioning and interfering with messaging (signals) taking place within the central nervous system between the brain and body. Subluxations with children are common as there are tiny shifts in a child’s musculoskeletal system produced from routine daily activities like crawling, running, jumping or simply playing. Even at the birth of a baby, whether vaginal or via c-section, it’s not uncommon for trauma to occur in a newborn’s spine, something called Traumatic Birth Syndrome or TBS. Click here to where we go into detail in answering the question: How Do Babies & Toddlers Get Subluxations of the Spine?
Subluxations eventually lead to systematic dysfunction and disease. When faced with untreated subluxations, the human body reacts by performing poorly on every level. The immune system weakens, strength and coordination are negatively affected, and organs may cease to function normally. Pain levels and their consistency increase, stiffness and fatigue can become a constant.
The Molecular Inner Workings of Immune System Response in Treating Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis
While the following section does get “into the weeds’, it’s important to know the effectiveness of chiropractic care in treating juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, by revitalizing the immune system, is founded on proven molecular science.
The immune, endocrine, and nervous systems share messenger molecules that manage communication between them. One of these messenger molecules is called, IL-2 (Interleikin-2), and was thought to be an immune system molecule; however, recent studies have shown IL-2’s presence and activity in the central nervous system (click here for more information). IL-2’s presence in the central nervous system directly tethers immune defense and response and the central nervous system or brain.
Research titled, “Enhancement of in vitro interleukin-2 production in normal subjects following a single spinal manipulative treatment” (click here for the article) showed chiropractic adjustments produced:
- an increase in IL-2 levels and;
- robust functionality of T-cells (which protect us from infection, wipe out infected or cancerous cells as they direct the immune response).
The authors concluded that chiropractic adjustment can influence and improve the biological immune system behavior. The takeaway here is to understand how chiropractic care revitalizes the healthy functioning of the immune system.
Other research titled, “The Effects of Specific Upper Cervical Chiropractic Adjustments On The CD4 Counts of HIV Positive Patients‘” (Chiropractic Research Journal 1994; 3(1): 32-39), measured the effects of 6 months of regular chiropractic care on the immune system function of HIV patients. The research concluded patients who had received regular chiropractic adjustments had a 48% increase in the number of T cells, whereas the patients who did not receive chiropractic care had an 8% decrease in T-cells.
Next Steps To Receive Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis Chiropractic Care
In serving your child I pair proven chiropractic techniques with equally proven craniosacral therapy, to revitalize the immune system to its optimal operating level. Craniosacral therapy is a hands-on technique of applying gentle touch to release tension in the central nervous system. Craniosacral therapy is effective in boosting your immune systems because it can granularly map inflammation in the body and target tissues associated with the immune system with precision. Using craniosacral therapy I can identify any inflamed tissues, aspects of the immune system involved in that inflammation, all by palpating the immune system’s movement in response to the craniosacral rhythm. Click here for a comprehensive overview on my approach to boosting immune systems.
If you’re concerned about your baby, toddler, or young child’s health or well-being, don’t hesitate to call me at (212) 328-1180. Although arthritis is much more common in adults, it can also be profoundly debilitating for children. I’m quite experienced with treating juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and can structure a custom therapeutic solution that aligns with the specific characteristics of your child’s condition. I am available at my midtown Manhattan office to answer any questions you may have or to schedule a direct examination. Reach me any time.