What is Oligoarthritis – Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

The causes of arthritis are not known yet. One in every 1000 children belonging to the age group of 0-16 years can develop this condition. Oligoarthritis is one among the eight types of arthritis which affects the children. This article tries to get further insight on this type of juvenile arthritis.

Oligo in latin means few. It is the characteristics of this ailment to affect few joints of the body, during the first six months. Depending upon the number of joints affected by this disease and their duration, this condition is categorized either as persistent or extended type. In the former, the disease affects less than four joints throughout its course. But in the latter, more than four joints get affected in the first six months of the disease. It is also called polyarthritis.

Symptoms of Oligoarthritis:

  • Swelling and pain are the common signs
  • Uneven growth of bone is observed
  • The children suffering from this condition also develop eye disease. There can be swelling in the middle layer of the eye called uveitis. Presence of a substance called anti-nuclear antibodies in the blood test can confirm eye swelling.
  • Redness, bogginess and deformation of joints
  • Restricted movements and limping due to uneven growth of lower limbs is also seen
  • Rare signs are fever, fatigue, anemia and weakness

Young girls of 1-5 years are at high risk of developing this condition. Persistent type of this arthritis is the milder form of the disease treated easily. But when rashes appear it means that the disease has become extended type and requires very quick treatment. The chances of developing chronic arthritis increase if the treatment is delayed at this stage.

Treatment of Oligoarthritis:

Early initiation of the treatment can prevent complications like loss of eye sight. But unfortunately common signs like pain are not severe in the initial stages and patients ignore this condition. Blood test, X-rays of the limbs and joints and eye examination are the usual methods of diagnosis, carried out by a specialist like a pediatric rheumatologist. Non-steroidal and anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) reduce the pain, anti rheumatoid drugs (DMARDs) reduce the progression of the disease.

Exercises mentioned by the physiotherapist can strengthen the muscles, increase the flexibility of the joint and help the child achieve normal growth of limb. Use of cortisone eye drops and regular eye check-up can treat uveitis swelling. Omega-3 fatty acid sources like fish oil can reduce inflammation for a limited period of time (6 months).

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