Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis


Two years ago, our daughter Caroline (not her real name) developed a swelling above her left knee. She was 6, and had been ice-skating every day for a week. In our ignorance, we did not think much about it. The swelling kept growing; after about a month it looked pretty scary. We took her to her pediatrician, who seemed concerned, and sent her to a specialist. Tests showed a borderline Anti-Nuclear Antobody Factor and “Total nucleated cell count” in Synovial fluid over 7000. She was diagnozed with JRA, and prescribed Motrin. Her pediatrician seemed very sorry for us – at which point we understood how much trouble we were in. I was scared out of my wits, and kept talking about it to anyone who would listen. One of my friends (herself an MD) responded that her son (now grown-up and prefectly healthy) had had something similar. At this point she looked somehow furtive or embarrassed, and said in a lowered voice “We treated him with small doses of tetracyclin, and it appears to have worked”. This sent me surfing the web, and in no time I found this site, and much else… and Caroline’s knee kept swelling and began to hurt. We reasoned that if this was an infection, the sooner it is killed the less damage is done. If this is not an infection, the risk associated with erithromycin is minimal. And at 6, she was too young for doxicyclin; we started her on erithromycin on May 15, 200 mg. twice a day. On May 18, I left on a business trip, and came back a week later. The knee seemed less swollen, though my wife could not see any difference, having been around Caroline all this time. Within two weeks, there was no doubt. Three months later, we saw the specialist again. She looked pleased, and recommended that we continue Motrin. But of course. We saw her in another 6 months, and she observed that Caroline had a “trace” of arthritis, and did not need any medication. We continued the erithomycin. In another year, the specialist pronounced her cured. We continued the medication for half a year after the swelling disappeared completely, and Caroline has been off it for more than half a year now. There is no health trouble of any kind.

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