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Jennie Garth's 5-Year-Old Has Arthritis

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90210 star speaks out about her family's health crisis.

Today, the news broke that Jennie Garth's 5-year-old daughter, Lola, has juvenile rheumatoid arthritis that went undiagnosed for months. "She got very sick and we didn't know what was wrong with her,"  Garth, who has three girls with husband Peter Facinelli, told People. "I was basically locked in a closet with her for three months. It turned out to be a form of JRA; we treated her and it's in remission. It was tough, but she's better now."

What is Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, and what are the symptoms? Pediatrician Dr. Cara Natterson fills us in:

Arthritis means inflammation of the joints. In Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (also known as JRA), kids have one or more swollen, painful joints and often get fevers or rashes.

• JRA affects somewhere between 150,000 to 250,000 kids in the U.S., and it is twice as likely to appear in females. It can be short term (lasting a few weeks) or chronic and progressive (lasting years).

• JRA is not the same as your grandmother's arthritis. It tends to affect the big joints (like the hips, knees, elbows and shoulders) rather than smaller ones (though it certainly can show up in the fingers and toes, too). It can be
present in one joint, many joints, or all over the body with "systemic" symptoms.

• The symptoms of JRA can be obvious--like massively swollen knees and elbows with no preceding trauma--but they can also be subtle. Sometimes kids just have soreness in a joint or two or waxing and waning rashes. Fevers often accompany JRA. These fevers spike high in the evening and then go away during the daytime.

• JRA is thought to be autoimmune, meaning that the body's immune system accidentally turns on itself, generating inflammation and swelling. Therefore, the medical treatments for JRA are anti-inflammatory medicines. Physical therapy and exercise are extremely important with JRA, because the joints need to be mobilized--otherwise they can become stiff and the muscles around them weak. Often, JRA is managed by muscle and joint specialists called rheumatologists.

Any advice for Jennie Garth, Moms? Please comment below.

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35 comments so far | Post a comment now
Tammy September 4, 2008, 5:15 PM

My 9 year old has recently been diagnosed as well. Her knee is twice the size of the other and she gets really sore in the mornings or if she straightens it. Our Dr. is sending her right to an eye doctor to be sure it doesn’t affect her sight. Good luck.
There is nothing worse than seeing your child in pain!

Laura September 4, 2008, 5:57 PM

Poor little thing!

brenda September 4, 2008, 11:53 PM

my sister has jra with swelling on her fingers as well. She is 20 and was a very active athlete at her high school but she had to stop all that due to severe pain. Its strange how it just suddenly showed up out of nowhere. I feel hopeless when i see her in pain, she just jokes that she’ll have to wear her wedding finger around her neck in a necklace when that day comes. Hope there is a cure soon.

Kim September 5, 2008, 7:47 AM

Please, please look into her diet. nightshade plants, I.E. Tomatoes,Potatoes especiallymake my condition worse. God Bless

Sheila  September 5, 2008, 8:18 AM

Poor baby. I hope she is feeling better and it goes away forever!

Vicki September 5, 2008, 1:43 PM

I am so sorry about the poor child. It is such a painful thing. It’s so sad when a child (or anyone, but children should be carefree)has to suffer. I will pray for her and her family.

pam turner September 5, 2008, 1:51 PM

my prayers are with you. hope she gets better soon.

Jody September 5, 2008, 2:36 PM

My two year old daughter also has Juvenile Arthritis. She first started limping at 18 months. It took us 5 months to finally get an MRI to find out what was causing her the pain. At this point she had reverted back to crawling. We were told after the MRI that it was Juvenile Arthritis. She has been on medication for 8 months now. Her swelling has decreased and she is starting to run again. I am glad to hear you daughter is in remission. We are hoping our daughter will eventually get there also. Best wishes to you.

Dr.E September 5, 2008, 4:46 PM

As a wellness doctor, I have my patients checked for food allergies. About 80% of RA is caused by food alergies - adult and juvenile. Scratch test is 70-90% inaccurate. It has to be the blood test. Once the allergens are removed, there is marked improvement of symptoms.

Holly September 5, 2008, 6:19 PM

When my son was in the 4th grade, he had similar symptoms. We thought, along with his doctor, that he had sprained his ankle. A week later, his doctor thankfully recognized that it was serious, and immediately sent him to the LA Children’s Hospital where he received excellent care. Within 3 days, the reumatologist diagnosed him with “reactive arthritis”. He was observed by a steady stream of doctors/interns since this diagnosis was so rare. We were told that his immune system was reacting to the leftover antibodies from a previous strep throat. Something about the streptococcus was similar to the joints which caused the antibodies to attack the joints even though there was no streptococcus left. He just had to wait out the condition until his antibodies died out. This was a very painful, serious condition that caused swelling from his foot all up his leg preventing him from walking. He was in a wheelchair for 2 months, and it took 6 months until the antibodies disappeared. He is now 20, and has not had a reocurrence since.

Since that time I have developed rheumatoid arthritis myself, and have found some ways to manage include moderate exercise, and eliminating foods that aggravate it for example spicy or salty foods.

Caronamy September 5, 2008, 8:13 PM

My advise for Jenny is to look into MonaVie - it’s all natural fruit juice.

And if Jenny reads the advice she can contact me through my website.

Mommy September 6, 2008, 8:37 PM

I wonder if she’s fully vaccinated. Arthritis is on the rise in children now and before it was hardly even heard of (before all the vaccinations) especially in children. Maybe she should treat her for vaccine damage and see if it will help any.

Mommy September 6, 2008, 8:47 PM

“Today, arthritis affects one in three Americans, and about 300,000 American children have juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.10 Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis used to be so rare that statistics were not kept until its recent rise in children.”

Sharis September 8, 2008, 10:31 AM

The Arthritis Foundation is a good source of information. I was diagnosed at 9 months and I think this helped my mom get a lot of information. I still go to them for info. and I am 34 now.

Another concerned Mom September 8, 2008, 11:43 AM

The Arthritis Foundation is an excellent source for education, other families that are dealing with the same problems. Another additional source is the Arthritis Today magazine. You may wish to check that out as well.

gsl September 8, 2008, 12:36 PM

i am 34 years old and have had polyarticula jra since age 4. jra is not on the rise in recent years. people have just started talking about this disease and brought it into the public eye. vaccines and allergans have nothing to do with getting jra and i wish people would stop telling people not to get vaccinated for fear of getting jra. do your homework first before putting false information out there.

carrie September 8, 2008, 11:44 PM

A close friends daughter was diagnosed at age 6 with JRA but it took 2 years to get to that diagnosis and by then her dad was carrying her everywhere. They moved from the east coast to Arizona and the dry climate helped. She has had several joint replacements done starting as a teen but she doesn’t complain about her life. She is happily employed as a teacher in Arizona.

bmom September 9, 2008, 2:29 PM


My advice to any mom who’s child has JRA, including a celebrity mom - is get educated and be strong enough to advocate for your child. Contrary to some of the reports - remission does not happen “most of the time” and when it does, it is not always permanent. This disease can rear it’s ugly head years after “remission”. Be vigilant and prepared to give your child the best shot at a healthy, happy future.

And for Jennie in particular - I would love some of her celebrity put to good use to draw attention - ongoing and meaningful attention - to this disease.
Just because that six months of hell is over for her, doesn’t mean they are over for almost 300,000 other kids with some form of arthritis…..

Mary September 10, 2008, 1:29 AM

My 10 year old daughter has recently under gone testing for JRA. I have never been through anything like this. Our daugter is in so much pain and missing school. I as well have been out of work. I find that people are not educated on this paticular illness. Most people think I will give her ibuprofen and she should be good to go in a couple of days. It is heartbreaking when your child cannot get out of bed on her own or make it to the bathroom on her own. I don’t think the public understands how dbilitating this illness can be. I keep thinking we’ll wake up from this nightmare.

Kidsgetarthritistoo September 11, 2008, 12:52 PM

I belive that a celebrity could and would draw notheing but good attention to this disease.
We have been going through not 6 month of hell but 3 1/2 yrs of hell.
My 7 yr. old was diagnosed at age 4, since then she has been on nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory’s, disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (Methotexate), and now her dr. has added a biologic respone moifier (Etanercept:Enbrel).

The Arthritis Foundation can and is helping. Join or form a walk team in your area to raise money for (research), to raise awareness that KIDS GET ARTHRITIS, TOO!.

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