Schoolboy’s battle with arthritis

Riley Lemon of Parkhurst Road, Pennywell, Sunderland, who suffers with arthritis, pictured with his mum Kayleigh Lemon.
Riley Lemon of Parkhurst Road, Pennywell, Sunderland, who suffers with arthritis, pictured with his mum Kayleigh Lemon.
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THE family of an eight-year-old boy have told of their son’s battle with arthritis.

Riley Lemon was just six when doctors said he had the debilitating disease.

The Highfield Community Primary School pupil suffered pains in his legs and his knees were constantly swollen, with mum Kayleigh, 27, initially thinking her son was getting tired from walking to school.

But she was shocked when she was told Riley had juvenile idiopathic arthritis

“I didn’t even know children could get arthritis until he was diagnosed,” she said.

“The doctor had said he thought it was growing pains.

“Riley is constantly in pain and has to have medication every few hours.

“It was only in his knees at first, but now it is in both ankles and his fingers are starting to hurt.”

There are 10 million people living with arthritis in the UK, and only 15,000 of those are children.

Riley, who lives with his mum and sister, Keevie-Lea, five, in Pennywell, had to stop taking part in sports at school when he was diagnosed with the disease usually associated with old age.

Doctors have now started to treat Riley with methotrexate, a mild form of chemotherapy, which has allowed him to “manage his pain”.

“He has started playing football again,” said Kayleigh, a full-time mum. “And he is taking part in PE and everything again.

“He has to keep stopping when he plays, but he is doing it.”

Sunderland AFC fan Riley, who has to have a one-hour physiotherapy session every morning, has shocked doctors with his improvement since beginning to take the drug, normally associated with cancer, just before Christmas.

“It’s going really well,” Kayleigh said.

“His consultant said she was surprised there wasn’t any swelling, and she’s pleased with how he’s doing.

“We don’t really know what will happen from here. We’ve just got to keep on with the treatment that he’s having and hoping for the best.”

Earlier this month Riley raised £227 for Arthritis Research UK by cutting off his ponytail which he has been growing since being diagnosed in 2010.

The youngster made the decision because of his health improvements, and said he wanted to remember what he felt like before the diagnosis.