Juvenile Arthritis and Lifestyle Maintenance

When your child suffers from juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, maintaining a normal lifestyle can be challenging. Part of the treatment process is teaching your child how to cope with this illness and stay as healthy as possible. This article will discuss the facts about juvenile arthritis, possible treatments, and coping mechanisms.  arthritis

Symptoms and Causes

Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) is a disease that affects children under 17. While some patients only experience symptoms for a few months, others deal with the issues brought on by JRA their entire lives. These issues include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Stiffness
  • Limping
  • Clumsiness

Some forms of JRA can lead to other complications, such as blindness, eye inflammation, stunted growth, and joint damage.

This disease occurs when a child’s immune system attacks its own cells. The exact reason this happens is unknown, but experts believe that heredity and the environment play a role.

Treatment Options

Treatment for JRA focuses on pain management, joint damage prevention, and helping your child live a normal life. Options include:

  • Medications – Pain relievers, anti-inflammatory drugs, and steroids are often prescribed. Some cause serious side effects and will be used only when necessary.
  • Therapy – Physical therapy helps maintain joint flexibility, mobility, and muscle tone.
  • Surgery – Severe cases call for surgery.

Coping with Juvenile Arthritis

Here are some things your child can do at home:

  • Regular exercise – Promotes muscle strength and joint flexibility. Swimming is a good option, since it doesn’t stress joints.
  • Ice or heat – Cold packs, hot packs, or warm baths help relieve stiffness.
  • Proper diet – Due to certain medications or physical inactivity, your child is at risk for gaining weight. Be sure he/she eats healthfully and includes plenty of calcium in his or her diet.

To help your child cope emotionally with the condition, encourage them to express their feelings, treat them the way you would treat any other child, and help them stay physically active. While JRA can be a debilitating disease, your child can live a happy life with support from you and your doctor.

To learn more about dealing with juvenile arthritis, reach out to Specialty Orthopaedic Surgery today.

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