Juvenile arthritis or Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) is the most common type of arthritis in children under the age of 16. It is an autoimmune disease that researchers believe is linked to environmental triggers, certain infections, and genetics.
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis can cause persistent joint pain, swelling, and stiffness. Most children experience symptoms for only a few months, while others have symptoms for the rest of their lives.
In most cases, symptoms of juvenile arthritis have significant impacts on young people’s lives and it varies based on the type of juvenile arthritis.
The most common signs and symptoms of juvenile idiopathic arthritis are:
- Pain: While your child might not complain of joint pain, you may notice that he or she limps — especially first thing in the morning or after a nap.
- Swelling: Joint swelling is common but is often first noticed in larger joints such as the knee.
- Stiffness: You might notice that your child appears clumsier than usual, particularly in the morning or after naps.
- Fever, swollen lymph nodes, and rash: In some cases, high fever, swollen lymph nodes or a rash on the trunk may occur which is usually worse in the evenings.
Physiotherapy is a great treatment option for those who have arthritis, regardless of their age. Many physiotherapists are experienced in treating Juvenile Arthritis or Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (as mostly written) and helping children with this disease stay healthy and active.
Most times, pain limits the amount of activity a child can handle. However, it is important to encourage involvement during periods of remission and allow rest and symptom reducing therapies during periods of flare-ups.
Regular physical therapy and general exercise programs help to maintain range of motion in affective joints, build and maintain strength, maintain function, and can even help with symptom reduction.
Effective Physical Therapy Sessions Includes:
- Muscle tone
- Strengthening and Stretching.
- Range of motion
- Education on joint protection
- Home exercise plan
- Education on pain-reducing techniques
- Muscle relaxation techniques
- Splints or orthotics may be beneficial to help maintain normal bone and joint growth/prevent deformities during growth.
Ultrasound, Paraffin wax dips (hands and feet primarily), Moist compress (hot pack), Hydrotherapy (warm), Cold packs can also be used in reducing symptoms of pain.
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