Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA), sometimes referred to as Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, is an umbrella term used to describe several specific patterns of joint inflammation occurring within childhood. Estimates suggest approximately 300,000 children in the US have JIA.
In honor of Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month, HSS chief of pediatric rheumatology Karen Brandt Onel, MD, provides six tips for parents to keep in mind while managing their child’s symptoms at home.
- Keep Things Normal: Maintain your child’s daily activities, such as going to school and playing with friends. It’s important to keep up with usual activities so children can have a normal lifestyle.
- Keep Moving: Children with arthritis need to keep their muscles moving to prevent stiffness, so exercise is critical. I recommend stretching, strengthening and cardiovascular exercises.
- Use Heat: If your child experiences muscle stiffness in the morning, have him or her take a warm shower or bath. During cold weather, keep your child’s room warm to alleviate any soreness.
- Eat a Healthy Diet: In general, we want to promote lifelong healthy habits, and children with JA should have plenty of calcium and vitamin D.
- Seek Support: Family support groups, such as ones hosted by the Arthritis Foundation, are forums where parents can provide their own perspectives on managing their child’s JA.
- Ask Questions: Knowledge is power!
Dr. Karen Onel cares for children and teens with arthritis and other autoimmune disorders. Her goal is to work with the patient and their family to create a long-term care plan that will lead to improved quality of life.