I’ve just read a very interesting and informative article about Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (J.I.A.) in the New York Times. Written by Susannah Meadows, The Boy With a Thorn in His Joints, tells the story of the writer’s successful attempts to bring her young son’s J.I.A. into remission. The joyful photo accompanying the story gives you some idea of the outcome.
In her article, Meadows recounts the development of her now 5-year old son’s J.I.A. The most common form of arthritis in children, Shepherd’s symptoms first became apparent when he was three. Since Shepherd is a twin, it was impossible to overlook his difficulties as his brother sped ahead in growth and level of activity.
Going the traditional route at first, Meadows and her husband were fortunate to work with Dr. Philip Kahn, a pediatric rheumatologist at NYU Langone Medical Center. Kahn, who believes you go with what works, was open to alternative treatments in conjunction with traditional treatments. Still, it was another mother who put Meadows on the track to a part of Shepherd’s treatment that they credit with bringing about significant improvement.
Part of that alternative treatment has to do with the effects of a “leaky gut,” also known as increased intestinal permeability. It also looks at a way to restore the natural bacteria in the body after the use of antibiotics with the use of probiotics. The gluten in Shepherd’s diet was eliminated in keeping with the hypothesis that it is a source of inflammation.
Shepherd makes it clear that they made a number of changes for Shepherd at one time. She also makes it clear that her study is a study of one. As a result, she explains she is not making any claims about what is or is not the source of her son’s dramatic improvement. She is documenting his improvement and offering her experience to others who may find themselves facing a similar diagnosis.