July is observed as “Juvenile Arthritis Month” in the United States. Sponsored by the Arthritis Foundation, the campaign is an occasion to increase awareness about juvenile arthritis (JA), promote the need for a cure, and spur advocacy on behalf of those suffering from this disease. Reports suggest that an estimated 300,000 children in the United States – that is 1 in 250 kids – are affected by some form of JA (2019 statistics). Juvenile arthritis is an auto-immune disease characterized by inflammation of the tissue that lines the inside of the joints (also known as the synovium). Formerly known as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, this is one of the most common types of arthritis affecting children under the age of 16. The condition takes a unique physical and emotional toll on kids, often resulting in debilitating pain and feelings of loneliness or depression. When compared to other forms of adult-onset arthritis, this disease is idiopathic meaning the exact cause of this condition is unknown. However, researchers relate some of the possible causes as genetics, environmental factors, or certain types of infections. Arthritis in children is treatable and most children suffering from this condition expect to live normal lives. Treatment modalities for this condition are based on the type of juvenile arthritis. Pediatric rheumatologists who treat children with this condition suggest medications and different exercise patterns to reduce the symptoms. Physicians providing adequate treatment should ascertain that the medical coding for the condition is properly done on their medical claims. Proper coding is important for healthcare providers/medical billing and coding companies to ensure accurate documentation and reimbursement.

The month-long observance aims to support arthritis research specific to juvenile arthritis every year. It aims to empower kids, teens, young adults and their families through support, education and forging connections. There are different types of juvenile arthritis (JA) which include – Systemic arthritis (also called Still’s disease), Oligoarthritis (pauciarticular juvenile rheumatoid arthritis), Polyarthritis (polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis), Psoriatic arthritis, Enthesitis-related arthritis and undifferentiated arthritis (which does not fit within any other subtypes). Some forms of juvenile idiopathic arthritis are more common in girls. The condition affects each child differently and can last for indefinite periods of time. There may be times when symptoms improve, disappear (remissions), or worsen (flare-ups). In some cases, a child may experience one or two flare-ups and never have symptoms again. Other children may have frequent flare-ups and symptoms that never go away. Some of the most common symptoms include – pain, swelling, and tenderness in the joints, joint stiffness (especially in the morning), persistent fever, eye redness or pain, irritability, fatigue, weight loss, blurred vision and limping (in younger children).

The 2020 annual observance is a public platform to spread awareness about the seriousness of JA and alert children, siblings, parents, families and caregivers who face the everyday challenges of living with arthritis. It also aims to generate information about the top causes of JA and evaluate the preventive steps that can be taken to control this condition. Diagnosis of JA can be difficult as the child may not experience symptoms in some cases and in other cases the symptoms may be associated with other diseases. There is no single test that can correctly confirm a diagnosis of JA. However, combinations of other tests such as blood tests (Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), C-reactive protein, Rheumatoid factor, Anti-nuclear antibody, Cyclic citrullinated peptide (CCP), bone scan, Joint fluid sampling and synovial tissue sampling and imaging tests like X-rays or MRI may be performed to rule out other conditions that generate similar signs and symptoms. Treatment for juvenile arthritis generally includes both exercise and medications. Medications used to treat JA include – Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), Slow-acting anti-rheumatic drugs (SAARDs), Corticosteroids and Anti-metabolites. The treatment plans may be based on the type of juvenile arthritis a child suffers from. The diagnosis, screening tests and other treatment procedures administered by pediatric rheumatologists or other rheumatology specialists must be carefully documented using the correct medical codes. Medical billing and coding services provided by experienced companies can help physicians use the correct codes for their billing purposes. ICD-10 codes for diagnosing Juvenile arthritis (JA) include –

M08 Juvenile arthritis

M08.0 Unspecified juvenile rheumatoid arthritis

  • M08.00 Unspecified juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, of unspecified site
  • M08.01 Unspecified juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, shoulder
    • M08.011 Unspecified juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, right shoulder
    • M08.012 Unspecified juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, left shoulder
    • M08.019 Unspecified juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, unspecified shoulder
  • M08.02 Unspecified juvenile rheumatoid arthritis of elbow
    • M08.021 Unspecified juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, right elbow
    • M08.022 Unspecified juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, left elbow
    • M08.029 Unspecified juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, unspecified elbow
  • M08.03 Unspecified juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, wrist
    • M08.031 Unspecified juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, right wrist
    • M08.032 Unspecified juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, left wrist
    • M08.039 Unspecified juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, unspecified wrist
  • M08.04 Unspecified juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, hand
    • M08.041 Unspecified juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, right hand
    • M08.042 Unspecified juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, left hand
    • M08.049 Unspecified juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, unspecified hand
  • M08.05 Unspecified juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, hip
    • M08.051 Unspecified juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, right hip
    • M08.052 Unspecified juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, left hip
    • M08.059 Unspecified juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, unspecified hip
  • M08.06 Unspecified juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, knee
    • M08.061 Unspecified juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, right knee
    • M08.062 Unspecified juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, left knee
    • M08.069 Unspecified juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, unspecified knee
  • M08.07 Unspecified juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, ankle and foot
    • M08.071 Unspecified juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, right ankle and foot
    • M08.072 Unspecified juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, left ankle and foot
    • M08.079 Unspecified juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, unspecified ankle and foot
  • M08.08 Unspecified juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, vertebrae
  • M08.09 Unspecified juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, multiple site

As part of the campaign, healthcare organizations and top medical experts across the country will join hands to organize programs that would help provide adequate resources to those families that are fighting juvenile arthritis. People can take part in this campaign by sharing their story of struggle with JA online via social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. You can also share your cure arthritis pictures on social media using the hashtag #CureArthritis and #KidsGetArthritis to show your support and raise awareness about this auto-immune disease. Blue is the official color of the campaign and people can lend their support to the campaign by wearing rubber wristbands, ribbon magnets and lapel pins through this month.

Join the awareness campaign this July to spread word about Juvenile Arthritis, its types, causes, symptoms, and treatment options.