James Lowe is a New Zealand rugby union player and an official ambassador for Arthritis New Zealand. Lowe plays in the wing position for the Markos and Chiefs. In 2014, he played his first Super Rugby and contributed to the Chiefs 18-10 victory over the Crusaders in Christchurch. His aim is to play for the Kiwi World Cup squad in the near future.
Lowe was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, also known as juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), at the young age of 14. He takes prescribed medications and a weekly injection to control his arthritis. JIA strikes children under the age of 16 and affects an estimated one in 1000 children. It is one of the most common chronic diseases among children. To read about the different subtypes of juvenile idiopathic arthritis, please click here.
In JIA, joints are attacked by inflammation and become stiff, painful, and swollen. Some children with JIA develop inflammation involving their eyes as well; in some severe subtypes of JIA, organs such as the heart or lungs can be involved.
Overall, JIA affects girls slightly more often than boys. JIA can affect children of any age, from infancy to 16 years. While it has no known cure, there are effective treatments for JIA which can often lead to remission and prevent permanent joint damage and disability.
The most common complaint of children at the time they develop juvenile idiopathic arthritis is joint pain, accompanied by swelling or stiffness. Other warning signs which may be present at the onset of disease include:
- Change in ability to keep up with normal activities, such as sports or school work because of physical joint pain.
- Irritability, especially in a young child who is in pain
- Refusal to walk, limping, or a child who knows how to walk may return to crawling
The Arthritis Olympic Village and its members would like to thank James Lowe and other professional athletes living with arthritis for inspiring others to follow their dreams and persevere.