The goals of medical treatment for
juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) are to reduce your
child's joint pain and to prevent disability. Physical therapy and medicine are
the basis of medical treatment for JIA.
Treatment is determined by the type and
severity of JIA. Even when JIA is uncomplicated, an affected child may need years of medical treatment or checkups. To make sure your child's care is appropriate
for the stage of disease, work closely with the medical team. Learn as much as
you can about your child's disease and treatments, and stay on schedule with
medicine and exercise.
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WebMD asked Solomon and Androniki Bili, MD, MPH, to explore the possible...
Because pain, stiffness, and swelling can
change from day to day, be sure to learn how to assess your child's
condition. It can be hard to know if children are having pain. Some children
are not able to say what they feel, while others are afraid to say they feel
pain if they think they will have to go to the doctor or think they will make
their parents upset. Children also simply learn to cope with pain by sleeping
or playing. To know a child is in pain, you may need to look for changes such
as stiff movements, rubbing a joint or muscle, or avoiding movement. You may also notice your child is irritable or easily
juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) usually begins
after your doctor has eliminated other causes for your child's symptoms. A good
indicator of JIA is if your child's pain, swelling, and stiffness in the joints
have persisted for at least 6 weeks. Your doctor may set up a treatment team,
often including a pediatrician, rheumatologist, and physical and/or
Physical exercise is a crucial part of
treatment for a child with JIA. Your child's
occupational therapists can teach you and your child
exercises to do at home to prevent
contractures and maintain joint range and muscle
strength. Moving your child's arthritic joints regularly through their full
range of motion helps prevent stiffening or deformity.
Many children with JIA don't want to move painful joints and need to be
encouraged to continue with daily physical therapy.
likely be an important factor in your child's treatment.
Unless your child's condition is
life-threatening or involves severe eye or joint inflammation, nonsteroidal
anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are likely to be the first line
of medication treatment to reduce inflammation and any pain. If you see no
improvement after 6 weeks, your doctor may try a different NSAID. Some children
gain relief from one NSAID but not another.