Currently, there is no cure for juvenile arthritis (JIA) and there is no proven way to prevent it. However you can take measures to prevent complications and make living with the disease easier.
Measures to prevent joint pain and swelling
- Exercise:Exercise is an essential element in complete treatment plan for juvenile arthritis. But ensure that your child does not strain the joints during exercise---this can increase the pain. Consult a doctor or physical therapist to learn exercises appropriate for your child. Regular exercises help to improve both muscle strength and joint flexibility. But it is important to maintain balance between activity and rest in children with juvenile arthritis. Swimming is considered a good exercise for children with arthritis as it places minimal stress on joints. Limit activities that can be stressful to joints such as running or contact sports especially during exacerbations of symptoms of arthritis. But do not limit all the activities to such an extent that the child begins to feel different from his peers or friends.
- Medications: Follow the doctor’s recommendations regarding medications and other supportive treatment such as use joint supports or splints, application of cold or hot pack and exercises. Give the medicines after a snack or meal in the morning to prevent stomach upset. Cold or hot pack can decrease stiffness and pain in arthritis. Both are effective but most children prefer a hot pack or a hot bath or shower to cold pack. If you are using heating pads, hot water bottles, and hot packs do not leave your child unattended with it and ensure that it is not too hot for your child's skin.
Measures to prevent morning stiffness
- Joint stiffness is a common problem in children with juvenile arthritis. It especially increases after sleep. The joint stiffness may be less inthe morning in many children if the joints are kept warm during the night. Make your child wear footed pajamas or thermal underwear, or use a sleeping bag, heated water bed, or electric blanket to keep the joints warm.
- A warm bath or shower after waking up in the morning followed by gentle stretching exercises can also help reduce joint stiffness.
- Taking the medications early in the morning after snack or breakfast can also help to ease morning stiffness.