For any family, a diagnosis of arthritis is upsetting. A diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis can be life changing. For those families with a diagnosis of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, the news is likely to send you and your family into a tailspin. The good news is, there is loads of information and assistance out there and a large community of people all managing the same disease.
Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis vary in severity and variety and juvenile arthritis is no different. Some of the symptoms include:
- persistent fever
- weight loss
- joint stiffness
- blurred vision
- eye redness and/or pain
It’s important to note that some children who are diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis present with no symptoms at all.
Tips to treatment is as varied as the symptoms and may require more a combination of several.
Heat and Cold
Alternating heat and cold on the site of inflammation will greatly reduce swelling and therefore, discomfort. Heat can be applied with a heating pad or hot water bottle. Cold compresses and ice work well when applying cold. For both heat and cold, be careful not to leave on too long. Especially for children who generally have more sensitive skin. Twenty minutes is plenty.
It is important for everyone to get exercise regularly but it is imperative for a child with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis to stay active. Swimming is highly recommended for anyone with arthritis as it’s easy on the joints. It’s important to find something the child enjoys doing so that their exercise remains consistent. Regular exercise will build strength and maintain flexibility.
When we are in pain, we don’t want to eat. Children who suffer from juvenile rheumatoid arthritis are no different. Not wanting to get up and move compounds the situation and weight control among children who suffer from this disease is common. While calcium is especially important to the diets of these children, good eating habits in general along with a consistently healthy diet are necessary for managing rheumatoid arthritis.
Wherever your child is in their journey with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, emotional support from those closest to them is very important. Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis will be a life long struggle and growing up has its own set of challenges. Love and support and the encouragement to carry on in life as any one of their peers would, can make all difference.
If your child or loved one has been diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, you know that there is no exact cause, nor is there any cure, for this autoimmune disease. Once a diagnosis of arthritis is made, a blood test will be done to check for the rheumatoid factor (an antibody.) Sometimes this test is negative but this does not mean that rheumatoid arthritis does not exist in the child. Rheumatoid arthritis is hard to test for and no single test can confirm a diagnosis. There are, however, many things that can be done to manage and decrease the symptoms. Managing chronic illness in a child can be tricky, but not impossible.