Making sense of juvenile arthritis

November 21, 2022

Making sense of juvenile arthritisNot to be mistaken with rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) or juvenile arthritis is an inflammatory condition affecting children and adolescents – complications and consequences of the disease include swelling, stiffness, and deformities of joints. While the exact numbers of patients with JIA is not known in Malaysia, the prevalence of the disease is high in western countries, although guidelines on treatment may vary.

Thanks to a team of researchers from Aarhus University, Denmark, in collaboration with experts from a wide range of international professional groups, a new set of interdisciplinary guidelines has been developed to optimise the treatment of patients with juvenile arthritis, in particular, jaw arthritis. The guidelines focus on early diagnosis and screening for a better treatment outcome.

Around 1,500 children in Denmark have a diagnosis of juvenile arthritis, which often results in inflammation of the jaw joint. This leads to pain, reduced joint function, and growth disruption in the face, which in severe cases may give rise to sleep apnoea and a need for surgical treatment of the patient’s jaw.

Up until now, it has proved difficult to find an effective treatment for arthritis of the jaw, as it is a complicated joint, and optimal treatment requires the involvement of many different groups of medical professionals, including radiologists, paediatric rheumatologists, physiotherapists, maxillofacial surgeons, and orthodontists.

But now, a group of experts from these disciplines has come together to produce common recommendations and guidelines for interdisciplinary collaborative treatment in connection with arthritis of the jaw. These guidelines will be regularly revised as new knowledge becomes available through research and follow-up programmes.

“Health systems are organised in different ways around the world, and the treatments offered have therefore been a bit random. Now, guidelines have been drawn up for optimal collaboration in treating this condition, which can guide the treatment of the individual patient, but also help the health systems to organise themselves in such a way that this interdisciplinary approach to treatment is possible,” explained Peter B. Stoustrup, Associate professor at Department of Dentistry and Oral Health at Aarhus University.

In Aarhus, the interdisciplinary approach to treatment has been normal practice for several years, and researchers from Aarhus University have therefore been the driving force behind the development of the guidelines in the area.

With the recommendations in hand, Stoustrup said it will be easier to establish centres that practise multidisciplinary treatment for children and young people with arthritis of the jaw, highly valuable for patients in countries without public health insurance.

“We have on board centres like Boston Children’s Hospital and hospitals in Atlanta and Calgary, in the US, who are rolling out the organisational and interdisciplinary approach to this treatment that we are proposing. It is our hope that this can provide inspiration for other centres (worldwide),” Stoustrup revealed.

Category: Education, Features

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