Will he grow out of it? That’s the question I get asked the most. People find it extremely difficult to associate arthritis with someone who isn’t over the age of 60, but I understand. I really do. I mean, it has only been within the past decade that we started using the term JIA (juvenile idiopathic arthritis) instead of referring to all types of young arthritis as JRA (juvenile rheumatoid arthritis). The fact is, there are actually six subtypes of JIA and you can be positive or negative for the rheumatoid factor in your blood. The word “idiopathic” literally means “of unknown origin” so that really brings you down a peg as a parent when you’re trying to figure everything out. My son has polyarticular JIA which, by definition, means he has inflammation in five or more joints. Unfortunately for my son, he leans way closer to the “more” in that description. When he was first diagnosed he had inflammation in almost every joint they examined and already had bone erosion in his TMJ. They gave him steroid injections in his knees, ankles, and jaw, but that only helped for about two weeks. He is now on two immune suppressing drugs as well as a twice a day anti-inflammatory. His immune system is the problem. Something in his little body is out of whack and thinks it should attack it’s own joints. Something invisible to the naked eye is putting my son’s childhood in danger. Something I can’t control is jeopardizing my son’s future. So the answer is no. No he will not grow out of it. He will always have to be on medicine, and if by some great miracle he is able to come off the medicine, it won’t be for very long. The term “flare” is an evil word in our house; a word we try to hide from until it is staring us right in the face. I wish it was easy to say yes he will grow out of it, but the truth is, that’s just probably not the case.
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