About us

Children’s arthritis event helps raise vital awareness

11 April 2018

Health Care

Arthritis, it just affects the adults, right? Wrong, juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) can have a life-changing impact on young people and with many initially thinking the symptoms are just growing pains it is important for diagnosis to be made as early as possible.

The Paediatric Rheumatology team at Southend Hospital recently organised an event within the unit where children with arthritis and their families could meet others of a similar age range with the same or similar conditions. All receive care at the paediatric outpatients unit, with the youngest just 18 months old.

Such events enable young patients to share their experiences and gain support from one another, as well as helping further raise awareness of the condition to mums and dads, but also to primary care providers and schools.

One of those at the get together was Poppy Finch, 16, and her mum, Debbie. Poppy is your typical chatty, confident teenager and you'd never know that she has a significant medical need, suffering with severe arthritis. It continues to have quite an impact on her everyday life with constant flare ups.

Poppy said: "When people think of arthritis they think of it as in one joint, but I have it in most of mine, in my ankles, knees, shoulders, hips and spine. It stops me doing a lot of things that teenagers do, like going to parties, and means that I have to miss quite a bit of school being in hospital. For several months I was in a wheelchair. It can be quite difficult explaining it to people though, especially as much of the time it's an illness that you can't see. Some people just think you are a lazy, typical teen."

For Poppy, her arthritis started when she was just seven and it was first thought to be growing pains. Poppy's GP referred her to the orthopaedic team when her swollen and painful knee wasn't eased with cold packs. Then, Poppy was seen by the paediatric outpatients team who made the diagnosis of JIA.

By the age of 10 Poppy's arthritis had spread to her other joints, but mum Debbie was thankful that Poppy's symptoms had been investigated and diagnosed early.

Debbie, said: "At the time it was diagnosed we hadn't come across it before, you just don't think your child is going to get juvenile arthritis. The paeds team here have been amazing. It's like an extended family; it really is our second home with the amount of time we spend in hospital."