Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
Three months short of Mickey’s second birthday, he developed a slight limp. He began favoring one leg, and if he were immobile for an extended period—like nighttime or his afternoon nap—he became noticeably stiff. At times he even needed help getting to his feet. But he still didn’t show signs of acute pain. It was odd. It also was time to see a doctor.
Mickey’s pediatrician tentatively diagnosed him with a condition called toxic synovitis, a condition that can follow a viral infection and is normally self-limiting and resolves after a week or so. Mickey’s limp continued to worsen, then his knee began to swell. His parents felt helpless as their little boy couldn’t even tell them what it felt like.
Another trip to the doctor turned into an admission at Children’s Hospital. Now at 22 months old Mickey was a hospital patient. That week was a scary whirlwind. Mickey wore a hospital gown and learned the hard way about IVs and medicines and tests. His parents tried their best to maintain a steely resolve and keep Mickey comfortable, but scary prospects like bone infection and tumor and Lyme’s disease made that hard. Having a young child in the hospital was such a foreign situation and they took each day hour-by-hour, wondering what was going to happen to their sweet boy and their family. At one point, Mickey’s parents sat scared in a waiting room while Mickey was put under anesthesia for his pediatric orthopedic surgeon to perform an MRI with biopsy, possibly to tell his parents that surgery was needed to remove a tumor or address a bone infection. That fear, fortunately, did not come to fruition.
Mickey’s orthopedic surgeon referred Mickey’s case to a Rheumatologist, Dr. Brett Smith. Dr. Smith saw Mickey in the hospital that week and he was able to diagnose Mickey with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) almost immediately and he recommended a course of treatment to begin at once. Finally, an answer! Mickey responded beautifully to a steroid shot directly to his knee. Within two weeks, he was walking normally and back to doing all the things toddlers love to do.
Mickey’s parents are grateful he responded to his treatment and has been fortunate to avoid his JIA flaring up again. In that regard, he’s very lucky. Many cases are chronic and affect the everyday lives of children. Mickey’s parents also are thankful that JIA awareness was present enough in their area to help his doctors connect the dots and diagnose his condition.