Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis: Pain Management - Topic Overview
Most children who have
juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) will have some
pain and discomfort from the disease. The pain of JIA is related to the type
and severity of the disease, the child's pain threshold, and emotional and
psychological factors. Pain limits a child's ability to function. With care and good communication with your child's doctor, it
is possible to provide some, if not total, relief.
How to know if your child is in pain
Pain can be difficult for a child to describe. Also, a child
isn't always able to recognize a sensation as pain. An older child may be able
to describe tingling, cramping, or sharp sensations and may be able to tell
where and when the sensation occurs. When a young child is in pain, the signs
can be hard to recognize.
Signs that may mean your child is in pain
- Changes in usual behavior. Your child may eat
less or become fussy or restless.
- Crying, grunting, or
- Crying that can't be comforted.
- Facial expressions, such as a furrowed brow, a wrinkled forehead,
closed eyes, or an angry appearance.
- Sleep changes, such as waking
often or sleeping more or less than usual. Even children in severe pain may
take short naps because they are tired.
- Body movements, such as
making fists, guarding a part of the body (especially while walking), kicking,
clinging, or not moving.
Some children may deny that they are in pain because they are afraid of
medical procedures. For example, admitting that they are in pain might mean blood tests, which may be painful themselves. Some children may try
to ignore their pain rather than take medicines, which often have
discomforting side effects. Pain isn't a visible
symptom, so you and your child's treatment team will need to rely on your
child as the primary source of information on the status of his or her pain.
Only your child knows if pain is present. And experts say that children rarely
pretend to have pain.
Managing your child's pain
Your child's JIA treatment plan should include regular assessments of
pain and what to do to relieve it, starting with medicines such as
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Pain, stiffness, and swelling can change in intensity from day to day. So be sure to learn how to assess your child's condition, which often requires
being sensitive to signs of pain on a daily basis.