Arthritis – not just a disease of old age
03 October 2012
Arthritis is not a disease which just affects the elderly.
The paediatric rheumatology team at Southend University Hospital regularly sees young patients with the condition whose ages range from as young as two years up to their teens.
These youngsters and their parents and siblings will be getting
together with other families to share experiences at a
special open afternoon at the hospital next week.
Paediatric and rheumatology doctors, nurses and physiotherapists
will also be on hand to answer any questions and provide
The team is hoping the event will be even more successful than
the previous open day two years ago, so that the profile of
juvenile arthritis is raised and patients and their parents and
carers no longer feel so isolated by the condition.
Among those attending will be Libby Mackerness, five, from
Woodside Avenue, Benfleet and three-year-old Rosie Jupp from
Libby was nearly two when doctors at Southend University
Hospital diagnosed polyarticular arthritis. But before that she had
spent a week in a plaster caste when doctors at another hospital
wrongly diagnosed a broken knee cap.
Libby's mum, Sarah, said: "One of Libby's knees had swollen up
and she could not straighten her leg properly.
"Within three months of coming to Southend, she had been
diagnosed and treatment had started. I cannot fault the care we
have received there - it is excellent and everyone is really
Sarah, who also has a nine-year-old son Quinn, now gives her
daughter weekly injections of the anti-rheumatic drug
She says: "She is responding very well. If anything, the
condition has made her a more determined and stubborn little
"The open day is a great idea. When Libby started play school
she used to ask all the other children if they had injections too
as she thought it was normal. Meeting other children with the same
condition will do her the world of good and we will be pleased to
chat with other
Rosie's mother, Louise, agreed. "It is going to be brilliant.
Arthritis in children is not that rare but no-one really knows
about it and it can make you feel quite isolated.
"We have never met parents with children with the same condition
- Rosie had not been diagnosed when the team held the last open day
- and it will be fascinating to chat with them."
Paediatric rheumatology consultant, Dr Frances Borg, said: "Over
the last few years there have been huge advances in medical
treatments and support available to children with juvenile
idiopathic arthritis, such that we now expect these young people to
be able to lead full and normal lives. We would encourage
parents whose children have persistently painful or swollen joints
to visit their GP to be referred to the rheumatology team for
The event takes place on Tuesday, October 9 between 4.30pm and
6.30pm in the rheumatology outpatients department, situated at the
rear of the hospital.