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What Is Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis?

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How Does Exercise Fit Into Treatment?

Exercise and physical activity are important for children with JRA. Movement brings less pain, builds strength, keeps joints moving well, and improves endurance.

With the help of physical and occupational therapists, children with JRA learn simple ways to do daily tasks. Therapists teach them exercises to help with flexibility and strengthening moves for their muscles.

It can help to use hot and cold treatments. For instance, you could use a warm compress to loosen up a stiff muscle and an ice pack to reduce swelling and inflammation.

Therapists can also make splints for children to correctly position their joints and reduce pain. People typically use them on their knees, wrists, and fingers and often use them while they sleep at night.

If your child has JRA, encourage her to get out there and be active. Avoid contact sports and instead go for things that are not stressful on the joints, like swimming.

Are There Complications With Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis?

There can be.

Eye problems are linked to some forms of JRA, so keep up with your child’s eye tests.

JRA can also cause problems with oral health if it affects the jaw and makes it hard to brush and floss teeth. Dentists can recommend special toothbrushes and flossing gear to help children take care of their mouths.

People with JRA often have temporal mandibular joint (TMJ) or jaw pain. Certain exercises can curb jaw pain and stiffness. If the lower jaw doesn’t develop correctly, it can cause an overbite. An orthodontist can usually fix this. In some cases, surgery may be needed.

You may also want to check with your child’s doctor about their weight. Some people with the condition may need more calories. Others may gain too much weight because they have problems being active, or because of medication side effects. Extra weight is bad for the joints.

What's the Outlook for Someone with JRA?

Most children with JRA recover from the disease fully. With proper treatment, permanent damage is now rare.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on September 06, 2014
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