One in every 1,000 Children living with Arthritis
One in every 1,000 children in Ireland is living with arthritis. It is the biggest cause of childhood disability in Ireland. However, Ireland has one of the lowest of numbers of Consultant Paediatric Rheumatologists in Europe per head of population with the waiting list for diagnosis of children suspected to be more than two years.
Currently, there are 447 children still waiting in pain to be seen by specialist doctors. Early diagnosis and short waiting lists are essential to preventing irreparable joint damage and future complication. Arthritis is so much more than joint pain; children are also living with constant fatigue, muscle wastage, high temperatures and poor immunity. In a recent survey, conducted by Arthritis Ireland, 86% of parents said one of the hardest things about their child having arthritis is seeing their child in pain. However, that is what they have to see on a daily basis, with 32% waiting between 6 weeks and 6 months for a Rheumatology (or Rheumatology related) appointment and 16% waiting over two years. Best practice guidelines recommend that children be seen within six weeks of the onset of symptoms.
Lorna Norton’s son, Mark aged seven, was diagnosed when he was four years old. Lorna said: “When Mark was a baby, he could not raise his head, he missed all of his milestones, and we were told that he may never walk. Some days Mark cannot get out of bed because he is in too much pain, he cannot carry a schoolbag on his back because it makes his knees buckle underneath him. People often don’t understand that there is anything wrong with Mark, they think that he is moaning and that he is lazy. Mark has been on a waiting list for the past two years, waiting to see a Physiotherapist to help with this essential treatment, waiting in pain. For us, there seems like there is no end in sight.”
During the month of May, Arthritis Ireland is advocating to fill more positions, which will ease waiting times, and raise awareness to the severity of childhood arthritis. John Church, CEO Arthritis Ireland, said: “Arthritis is often seen as an “old person’s disease” with “a few aches and pains”, however it is a chronic disease impacting on children and young people in Ireland. Childhood arthritis needs to be given the respect and resources it deserves. That is why we have been working to gain approval and raise funds for an appropriately staffed paediatric clinic.”
By helping Arthritis Ireland raise awareness and advocate for better service you can help a child with arthritis live a full and active life. Find out more about “Children with Arthritis, Still Waiting In Pain” on www.arthritisireland.ie.