Dr Humeira Badsha, Middle East Arthritis Foundation member (MEAF) and founder of Humeira Badsha Medical Centre Image Credit: Supplied

DUBAI: The UAE has seen a spike in the number of children affected by arthritis, a condition traditionally associated with adults. Speaking to XPRESS ahead of World Arthritis Day (October 12), Middle East Arthritis Foundation member (MEAF) Dr Humeira Badsha said there were increasing instances of Juvenile Idiopatic Arthritis (JIA) in children as young as six months to 16 years in the UAE. She is also the founder of Humeira Badsha Medical Centre located on Jumeirah Road. Excerpts from the interview:

How prevalent is arthritis in the UAE?

One out of 10 adults is suffers from arthritis in the UAE. The biggest misconception about arthritis is that it affects only the elderly. Few know that juvenile arthritis is an equally big concern.

What is ‘Juvenile Arthritis’? What are the causes?

Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA), like adult rheumatoid arthritis, causes autoimmune and inflammation of the joints making it difficult for the child to perform any physical activity. The reason could be genetic, lack of exercise or a poor diet. Unfortunately there is little that can be done to prevent it, but a lot can be done to reduce the impact.

Can you tell us the symptoms?

Some of the common ones include swelling and stiffness. Some kids also become very irritable and show signs of growth retardation.

What about treatments?

There are seven types of juvenile arthritis. Each one has a targeted treatment. Sadly there is no definite cure yet but therapeutics use different courses to help reduce the pain and prevent damage to joints.

Any advice for parents?

They should take ‘joint pain’ complaints seriously as early diagnosis can prevent joint damage. Also, they should see a child psychologist to help their child cope with the emotional impact of the disease.