Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
You can do a lot at home to help your child lead a normal life, relieve his or her symptoms, and prevent complications.
- Reference Do range-of-motion exercises. These help maintain your child's joint range and muscle strength. They also prevent Reference contractures Opens New Window. You may need to help an infant or younger child do the exercises.
- Reference Find a balance between rest and activity. Your child may need extra naps or quiet time to rest the joints and regain strength. But too much rest may lead to weakness in unused muscles.
- Reference Partner with school staff. You can plan creative ways of dealing with JIA-caused limitations. This can help your child make the best of his or her abilities.
- Stick to a medicine schedule. An older child may find it easier to remember to take medicine by using a pillbox or chart for a day's or week's worth of medicine. Ask your doctor if the dosage can be adjusted so your child can take it at times that are most convenient and won't make him or her feel "different." To avoid stomach upset, you can also give nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (Reference NSAIDs Opens New Window) with meals or a small snack.
- Reference Use assistive devices. These can help your child hold on to, open, close, move, or do things more easily. Devices include Velcro fasteners and enlarged handles. Getting your child lightweight clothing and toys will also help.
- Make sure your child sees the doctor regularly. He or she should also have eye exams with an Reference ophthalmologist Opens New Window. Reference Inflammatory eye disease can develop as a complication in children with JIA.
Dealing with stiffness
- Apply heat to stiff and painful joints for 20 minutes, repeating as needed. You can use hot water bottles or heating pads on a low-to-medium setting. Or make hot packs from towels dipped in warm water or wet towels microwaved for 15 to 30 seconds. Don't leave a small child unattended with a heating pad. Always make sure that heating pads, hot water bottles, and hot packs aren't too hot for your child's skin. Do not use heat if your child's joint are red and warm.
- Many children who have JIA have less stiffness in the morning if their joints are kept warm during the night. To help keep joints warm, try footed pajamas, thermal underwear, a sleeping bag, a heated water bed, or an electric blanket.
- Encourage your child to take a warm bath or shower first thing in the morning. It can help ease stiffness. Have your child stretch gently afterward.
- Give morning medicines as early as possible, with a snack or breakfast, to prevent upsetting an empty stomach.
Help yourself to help your child
Living with JIA often means making lifestyle changes and adjustments. This can be frustrating and demanding for you, your child, and your family. Here are a few steps to help yourself:
- Learn about the disease. Knowing more about it will help you and your child have less fear, make better decisions, and have better results.
- Work as a team with your child's doctors and other health professionals. The outlook is better when you and your child actively manage your child's health.
- Take good physical care of yourself so that you can help your child through the more difficult periods of illness. Consider becoming involved with a support group of families who live with JIA. Your local chapter of the Arthritis Foundation can provide classes and support-group information.
- Remember that many children with JIA don't have long-term disease and disability. They go on to lead healthy adult lives.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference June 5, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
Reference John Pope, MD - Pediatrics