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'It makes me feel sad and it hurts': A 9 year old's life with arthritis

Jamie is the only sibling with arthritis. Photo: ITV West Country

A mother and daughter from Bath have been sharing their experience about having arthritis at a young age.

Nine-year-old Jamie was diagnosed with the condition aged just two. Her mother Josie, 39, has had it since she was 12.

They both have Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) which affects 1 in 1,000 children across the UK.

Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints. It can affect one joint or multiple joints.

JIA is the most common cause of disability in children and when it flares up, it can stop them from taking part in physical activities.

It makes me feel sad... and it hurts.. and it feels weird.

It stops me from going on the trampoline. It stops me from running. It stops me from jumping. It stops me from bending and straightening.

– Jamie McCarthy
Jamie says the condition stops her from playing with her sisters. Credit: ITV West Country
  • Two of the most common types of arthritis amongst adults are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The symptoms of arthritis usually develop over time, but they may also appear suddenly.
Josie McCarthy has also had arthritis from a very young age. Credit: ITV West Country

I used to have to carry her into school, her primary school teacher used to carry her up the stairs so she could sit on the bench in the playground.

It can be difficult for people to understand that she does have a disability because it's not visible.

Knowing how uncomfortable it can be and how exhausting it can be, things are tough, but at least we can be a bit of a team and know what each other's going through.

– Josie McCarthy, Jamie's mother

Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis means frequent visits to the doctor - weekly injections, monthly blood tests and also quarterly eye tests as it can blindness.

Having arthritis has helped Jamie discover a love for Credit: ITV West Country

It's an emotional challenge, it's certainly character strengthening and it's certainly tough for her, yes. And it's something we talk about regularly.

– Josie McCarthy

The National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society says early diagnosis is key to managing the condition.

Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis is in effect the autoimmune system that's gone wrong and attacking your joints rather than preserving them. Once your joint has been attacked, it's doesn't get better, you just have to stop any further damage and potentially it'll have to be replaced.

I spoke to a Dad whose son is just 19 and has had his first hip replacement because of JIA. He has had arthritis for a long time, but was only diagnosed recently, but the damage was already too great and the treatment had been started early enough.

– Anne Gilbert, National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society

Jamie says despite the challenges that come with having arthritis, it's helped her discover a new hobby and is determined not to let it limit her quality of life.

I do really like art and drawing. I don't often have pain in my fingers. It's one of the things I can do without something hurting."

– Jamie McCarthy
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