Sunday, 6 October 2013

"Kids Always Outgrow Arthritis"

For children and teenagers with arthritis, there is one thing we hear very often.

"You'll grow out of your arthritis."
And no, it's not [usually] paediatric rheumatologists who tell kids this. It's other adults. It's the grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbours, teachers, and sometimes even parents and other doctors. They don't know better and believe it is true, and may give them comfort to believe. They've heard it before: You can't possibly come up with that idea yourself. So who was that person who spread the idea?

Lot's of people, actually.

It is said that about seventy five per cent of children with arthritis in four or fewer joints will 'outgrow' arthritis without the need of drugs. It is extremely common for children to only have four or fewer joints affected, so it's very probable that the story of someone's child outgrowing arthritis would spread.

Another problem is that many people don't understand what remission is. A person may become confused if a child achieves remission, however relapses a few months after. That person might have thought the child was 'cured.' There is no true cure, and many times when one achieves remission through medication, they will continue having to take it even though they feel better. Unless a person has the disease and/or are educated on the subject, it's very unlikely they would know.

The idea of outgrowing arthritis is very common. I've talked to many children and teenagers with arthritis who say they hope to outgrow it. I've met teenagers who have outgrown it too. But I also know many people who are now adults who have had arthritis as a child and never achieved remission. Many friends have expressed their anger over not outgrowing arthritis or achieving remission by adulthood whilst many other kids and friends have.

When I was first diagnosed when I was little, my family told me not to worry because I would outgrow it. I have many friends of the same age with arthritis who either outgrew it or are in remission. I've never done either. Though it's true we don't stop growing until our early twenties, I still doubt I'd outgrow it. I also doubt remission in the near future. It doesn't make me sad though, because I was educated quickly that kids don't always outgrow arthritis. But if I didn't know, I think I would really be upset that something everyone promised me didn't happen.





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