Tuesday, October 4, 2022

kochi: Study: Joint Pain In Kids Could Be Sign Of Malignancy | Kochi News

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KOCHI: Often severe, unremitting joint pain in children, especially at night, could be a sign of an underlying cancer, with the commonest being Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia; according to a study from Kochi. Therefore, steroids should be administered on such patients with careful consideration as it could mask the symptoms of malignancy and delay diagnosis, resulting in poor outcome.
A retrospective case review was carried out in 53 patients who presented at the paediatric rheumatology units in two tertiary hospitals in south India. The study was conducted over a period of eight years from 2013 to 2020.
Explaining why the study is important, Dr Suma Balan, lead author of the study and paediatric rheumatologist at Amrita Hospital, said that muscle and joint pains are common complaints in children. Majority of these symptoms are usually short lived and benign issues, which settle easily without any long-term issues. “However, joint pains and joint swelling can be the main symptom of juvenile idiopathic arthritis (formerly known as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis) which has a prevalence of 1 in 1,000 children. But while making a diagnosis, the doctor needs to eliminate many other possibilities too,” said Dr Balan.
Many of the children in the study presented with musculoskeletal symptoms and had a final diagnosis of malignancy. The median age was 6.1 years. While 75% came with a complaint of pain in the bone, there were other red flag signs — fever, pain in several joints of the body. There were also instances where the kid complained that they were unable to bear weight in lower limbs, had pain at night and there was joint swelling.
The study concluded that about 40% of the children with malignancies present with musculoskeletal symptoms and about 0.25% of these children have an underlying malignancy. “While assessing children with musculoskeletal complaints, physicians should be able to differentiate between bone and joint pain and look out for red signs and symptoms,” said Dr Balan.
“The use of steroids either via modern medicine or alternative medicine in this situation can mask the symptoms and findings on investigations,” she added.

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