Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Ruth Suter & Sam Elliott-Gibbs

Girl diagnosed with arthritis aged just 7 after struggling to walk to school

A seven-year-old girl was diagnosed with arthritis after her mum alerted doctors when she struggling to walk to school.

Jessica Rhodes has spoken about the 'loneliness' she feels living with the condition.

The youngster was just three-years-old when mum Tanya noticed she was tiring easily when walking every day, the Daily Record reports.

Jessica, from Edinburgh, was taken to her GP on multiple occasions and underwent numerous tests but to no avail, with answers over her mystery condition proving hard to come by.

Jessica explained: “I saw so many doctors. I didn’t know why I was getting ill all the time, and why I had to have so many different tests.

Jessica who is now 12, spent years suffering from a mysterious illness (Chris Watt)

"It was quite scary. I have tried lots of different medications, some helped, some didn’t. Some gave me mouth ulcers and made it hard to eat."

It wasn't until she developed increasingly unusual symptoms that she was first diagnosed with uveitis, an inflammation in the eye and one of the world’s most common causes of blindness.

After her uveitis diagnosis, Jessica - now 12 - began suffering from severe joint pain, with doctors soon realising she had juvenile arthritis before officially diagnosing her with the autoimmune disease in 2017.

She was given a wheelchair to attend school but could only manage short periods due to excruciating pain and tiredness.

She has opened up on 'loneliness' of living with health condition (Chris Watt)

Jessica added: "I have arthritis in my knees, ankles, shoulders and hands. But the inflammation isn’t only in my joints; my eyes and skin are affected as well.

“I need pain relief most days. I’ve lost count of the number of injections I’ve had.

"I have monthly infusions and regular steroid injections and I have a methotrexate injection every week. It makes me feel sick and rubbish the next day, but I know it helps make me less sore all the time.”

Jessica's mum Tanya eventually had to give up her job and find home-based work to care for her daughter.

The condition has limited the time Jessica has been able to spend with friends - something she admits has left her feeling isolated at school.

“It can be lonely having a long-term illness. I have had to miss quite a lot of school for appointments and treatments at the hospital," Jessica added.

"When I was in Primary 5, I had a lot of complications from my condition. I was in a wheelchair and couldn’t go to school for a long time. I missed school. I missed being with my friends and teachers.

“I try to join in all activities with my friends. Sometimes I can’t because I’m in too much pain and that’s really frustrating. Sometimes my family has to cancel our plans because I’m too ill to go out."

Jessica has spoken out about her condition as part of Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity’s (ECHC) ‘Never Alone’ appeal - which aims to raise awareness of the impact that living with a chronic condition can have on children.

Pippa Johnston, Director at ECHC, said: “Jessica will always have to deal with her arthritis. And sadly, she’s not the only child who suffers from a long-term, chronic condition.

"The hospital sees 110,000 children and young people every year, many of whom must attend on an ongoing basis – over weeks, -months and years. It can be a lonely experience and this loneliness can have long-term effects on a child.

"We have an opportunity to change that."

To make a donation to ECHC’s Never Alone appeal, visit:

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.