PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — At age 45, concert pianist Byron Janis noticed something disturbing about his finger.

“I noticed there was a little red patch on this part of my finger and it was painful,” he describes.

He was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis and the doctor had bad news.

“He said, it doesn’t get any better,” Janis recalls. “You’ll never play the piano again, forget it. Do something else. And i just didn’t accept that.”

Eventually, all of his fingers were involved.

“I learned how to play, if there was one finger that was bothering me, particularly one night, I would just change fingering on the stage,” he says

This childhood Pittsburgher wants to encourage youngsters with arthritis not to give up.

“Don’t let pain stop you,” he urges. “The most important thing is exercise. Moving, moving, whatever it is that hurts.”

“In the 70s, we’d be treating those kids with aspirin, and that would be giving them stomach ulcers. Prednisone, which would give them osteoporosis,” says Dr. Paul Rosen, a pediatric rheumatologist at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Newer medicines that specifically target the immune system don’t have as many side effects. Kids just have to be careful about infection

“A lot of people don’t realize that kids get arthritis,” Dr. Rosen continues. “Yesterday, I saw a child who was a 6-year-old boy who actually had swollen fingers for a year.”

With the right treatment, these children do just fine.

“If you have a talent and a passion for something, you will be able to overcome almost anything,” Janis declares.

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